It’s that time of year again.
After two months of regular season battles, the IHSAA volleyball state tournment begins today with sectionals at Jasper and Loogootee. The five area volleyball teams hope to hit the ground running toward a long postseason run.
After an up and down 2012 campaign, Washington didn’t end the season they would have liked. Head coach Alicia Hand said she it was unfortunate that their regular season finale at the Class 3A No. 1 Barr-Reeve Vikings didn’t go as well as she hoped as they lost in three consecutive games, 25-3, 25-12, 25-10. Despite the rough outing at Barr-Reeve, Hand still has the utmost confidence that her team will be ready Saturday at Jasper. As has been the mantra all year from Hand, her team needs to stay mentally tough in order to be successful.
“After the match we had, it is kind of rough,” Hand said. “Hopefully the girls stay mentally ready and we’re going at it with confidence.”
Playing again in the Jasper sectional, Washington will look to bounce back after last year’s defeat in the first round to Mitchell in three straight games.
The Hatchets (14-20) will see Heritage Hills in the second round of the Jasper sectional 31 Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
“We actually played them tough at the Heritage Hills Invitational,” Hand said. “We lost by a couple of points without Rachel (Chattin), so that’s awesome. There is a lot of potential there.”
With nine days in between, Hand emphasized the focus her team needs to have when they take the court Saturday.
“We need to stick together as a team,” Hand said. “It takes everyone on the field and off the field.”
The four other area volleyball teams, who are all Class A, meet Thursday and Saturday in Loogootee. The two heavy weights of the sectional are the host school, No. 3 Loogootee and Class A No. 1 Barr-Reeve. As is the case each and every year in recent memory, the Lions and the Vikings appear to be on another collision course for the sectional championship Saturday evening.
While many are expecting to see that matchup, North Daviess has the first shot at Barrr-Reeve. The Cougars, who set a single-season win record with 23, appear brimming with confidence.
“The girls are doing great, they have been playing better and better,” coach Rebecca Hays said. “I feel like we are reaching our peak as we enter the sectional.”
While Hays is confident, she understands the challenge that stands in front of her team Thursday against Barr-Reeve.
“I mean they are always a good, tough team,” Hays said. “They are fundamentally sound. We will have to play well to beat them, but we can beat them.”
With the game’s not starting until Thursday for some teams, and Saturday for the schools that received first round byes, Hays said this week is good for rest and preparation.
“It’s nice to get them rest,” Hays said. “It’s a long season with a lot of matches. We will be watching game tape and then having some team dinners that will pump the girls up.”
On the other side, the Vikings come in with the highest of expectations after concluding a regular season that saw them win 31 of their 33 matches.
Head coach Amber DeCoursey said she likes where her team is as they enter the postseason. She said her team needs to take it one game at a time and focus on the task at hand.
A bugaboo that has plagued the Vikings, according to DeCoursey, is serving and hitting errors.
“Especially at the beginning of the season with some of our younger hitters,” DeCoursey said. “As the season has progressed I feel that stat has gotten better, but some of our sets we are still having too many serving and hitting errors. We can’t expect to be successful at this point unless we get cut those down.”
DeCoursey said that starting the postseason with a quality opponent such as North Daviess will be a good test right off the bat.
“North Daviess is pretty solid,” DeCoursey said. “They are playing with a lot of confidence right now, their defense is pretty solid. They have some good hitting weapons. As competitive as they are and coming off a great season, we are looking for a good exciting match.”
Receiving first round byes, Loogootee and Washington Catholic will meet Saturday at 12:30 p.m. The winner advances to Saturday night’s sectional championship game. The Lions, the Class A No. 3 ranked team will do battle against a Cardinals squad at the end of a long year. Cardinals head coach Keith Wild stepped in this year to fill the head coaching vacancy and it’s been tough sleddingthrough a winless 2012 season.
“It is always the goal of every team that competes in any way to win,” Wild said. “This was our goal, not only to win matches, but improve as a team.”
As the Cardinals head into the tough sectional matchup, Wild had one message for his team.
“Our goal for the sectional play as a team,” Wild said.
The Lions with an eye on Saturday night’s sectional championship won 29 of 33 games this season, and head coach Lacey Wade thinks her team is playing at the highest level they have all season, but she knows at this point every match will be hotly contested.
“Going into the sectional every team plays a competitor,” Wade said. “Our girls are playing really well right now, so I think they will be mentally focused and ready to play.”
Wade emphasized how important the week leading up to the sectional tournament is to prepare and get everyone well and ready for the postseason.
“It’s good to work out any last minute things you need to focus on, although it does make a long week for the girls,” Wade said. “With all the anticipation the week goes pretty fast.”
It’s that time of year again.
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