INDIANAPOLIS — After a thrilling five-set victory over Monrovia in the sectional opener last Thursday, the Covenant Christian volleyball team fell to Speedway Saturday in the semifinal, 3-0.
It was tough starts in each set that Covenant coach Mick Oppy credits to the downfall in the 25-8, 25-20, 25-12 defeat to the Sparkplugs.
“I was really pleased,” Oppy said. “We really put ourselves in a hole at the beginning of each set and that makes it really challenging to dig yourself back out, but I felt they fought to the end. As a coach, that’s something that you’re extremely proud of.”
Oppy said he was extremely pleased with his team’s resiliency on Thursday in the opening victory, as well.
“(Thursday) was great,” he said. “That was really the goal for us as a team. To see a challenge come along and to see them come together, fight, and be mentally tough (was great).”
After dropping the first set 25-17, Covenant was on the ropes in the second set, down 25-24, but was able to fight back and took the set 29-27.
They were not able to build on the momentum of the comeback, falling in the third set 25-11. The fourth set was dominated by the Warriors, 25-12, forcing a fifth and deciding set, which they won 15-11.
“You don’t see many matches where a team wins 25-10, the next one a team wins 25-12,” Oppy said. “That means that it’s a mental game. I think that we won that. That was very exciting for us. (The match was) crazy though, it takes a lot of emotions.
“This year was kind of hard. We were in kind of a rebuilding phase. For us this year, it was that mental game, so that’s why Monrovia was such a big match for us. It wasn’t physical skills or athleticism, because we have that — it’s mentally, when the moment hits you, can you deliver? We struggled with that this year and that was something that we were trying to teach all year long. Monrovia was a good payoff and the fight today was too.”
Losing only two seniors — McCaela Moes and Marisa Smith — from this year’s 11-19 squad, the future is bright with experience for next season.
“The hope is that this is the foundation,” Oppy said. “Once you conquer the mental game, now you know that if you hit the gym and have a great offseason, they can be stellar next year.”