With a share of the SCL conference title on the line, Russia ruins Loramie’s shot with a four set-win in the conference finale.
Russia – OK, it’s one of the oldest cliches’ in sports. And that is…finishing second is like kissing your sister – depending on how she looks!
And that was the backdrop to Tuesday’s Shelby County League finale in Russia, as the Raiders 14-7 (8-3 in the the league), and Fort Loramie (12-9, 9-2 in the league) squared off to see who got what when it was over.
If Loramie had won, they would have tied Anna for a share of the conference title.
Or course, if Russia could win, they would deny that benefit to the Redskins, and there’s nothing short of kissing someone else’s sister that pleases Russia more…than beating Fort Loramie!
With a share on the line the bad news for Loramie would soon become a manifest. And that was, Russia simply wanted it more. Beating Loramie meant tying them for second place, which no one was really bragging about, but it is what it is when you can beat (or deny) your closest league rival.
They won it in four – 25-18, 17-25, 25-23, and 25-15.
“Great win for us tonight,” said Russia’s Aaron Watkins afterward. “This was so much better than when we played them at Loramie. It was pretty evident that the girls wanted to win it for our four seniors tonight, it was the last home game of the year, and I guarantee that they didn’t want Loramie to get that share of first place in the county.
“Laurissa Poling was tremendous for us tonight (20 kills and 8 blocks). At Loramie I told her I thought she had been dominated. But tonight, she was the aggressor, and she was the one who dominated. She stepped up in a big way. And of course, Whitney Pleiman was great for us tonight…but she’s great for us just about every night.”
The flip side was the fact of seeing a share of a title slip away. And Loramie coach John Rodgers minced no words in describing how that happened.
“We didn’t practice very well, and we didn’t play very well,” said Rodgers. “We just have to keep learning, and tonight we learned that we have to work harder in practice. We knew what they were going to do to us tonight, and what we didn’t do in practice…we didn’t do in the game.”
And what Russia did was a lot of dumping shots right in the middle of a defenseless Loramie defense. Touch shot after touch shot landed in between three players diving to save it…and no one did.
“We were prepared for that,” added Rodgers, “but what are you going to do. I don’t know if finishing second is like kissing your sister, but we’ve got to move on and prepare for tournament next week. A win is always good going in , but it’s also good to play well. That’s actually more important, sometimes. And tonight…we didn’t play well.”
But Laurissa Poling did play well, taking Watkins’ advice to be aggressive and dominate at the net. And her smile was the broadest of all as she exited the Raiders’ locker room after the game.
“They’ve always been a big rival to us, so we wanted to come out tonight and keep them from winning a share of the county,” said Poling. “Another thing is this game gives us some momentum going into the tournament next week, and I really believe we can have a good run in the tournament. County was important for us this year, but it’s not as important as how we do in the tournament. So this was a really fun game to win…and a really important game to win.”
Played before a packed out at the tiny Russia gym, there were so many crowded in that they opened up both sides of the bleachers.
But to Aaron Watkins, Laurissa Poling, and those who just showed up to watch, it really didn’t matter if a share was at stake – or, if Tuesday night was the last game of the season. No one said a word about tournament. It was Russia versus Loramie. Al Davis, the original owner of the ultimate Raiders – the Oakland Raiders – became famous for how he said it.
“Just win, baby,” was the phrase that he coined.
Even if it means kissing your sister!