They did it in three sets, and they made it look easy. Versailles reminded Covington (and anyone watching) that they’re armed and dangerous…and a bigger threat with each passing match.
Versailles – Officially, it took three games (they call them sets) for Versailles (3-1) to remind unsuspecting volleyball teams of their dominance Thursday night. It happened to be Covington (0-2) this time, but it could have been any one of two dozen others.
The defending state champs in Division III won easily over a young and inexperienced Covington group, 25-9, 25-10, and 25-9. At times it didn’t seem as close as that, actually. Versailles was bigger, more seasoned, and played with the swagger that you’d expect when you’re wearing the crown.
Acknowledging their advantage, Versailles coach Kenzie Bruggeman was happy to get more game-time work for many of her younger players.
“I think that’s what we take away most from tonight,” she said. “Our younger girls were able to really focus on the things we’re trying to learn right now. Knowing their responsibilities, recognizing what’s going on with the other side of the net, and just having the game slow down a bit for them…if we can learn those things right now that’s huge. That, and learning to execute and play to our level, and our standard.
“We need to eliminate mistakes, stay disciplined, and I thought there were moments in the second game when we lost that a bit. But overall I thought we remained very disciplined. I tell the girls that the energy always needs to come from us, and we rely on that.”
It was a collection of contributions – from Liz Ording, Paige Platfoot, Lindsey Winner and Kelsey Custenborder, and they had plenty of help.
“I loved the way Liz Ording played tonight. She did a really great job,” added Bruggeman. “Emma George had some really big moments at the net. Paige Platfoot made a huge run with her serves. There were so many who had good moments for us, but those are the ones that come to mind right now.”
On the other side…there is no one coaching presently that’s seen more developmental time in volleyball than Covington coach Lonnie Cain. He smiled when asked about the challenge of playing on back-to-back opening games – state champion Versailles, and state contender in Division IV, Russia.
“I told our girls that I was happy with the way we continued to play and fight through the adversity when you play a defending state champion,” said Cain. “I thought we did some things well. We passed pretty well on serve reception, but it’s really hard to score against a team that big at the net. And I know our younger girls played better tonight than they did (Saturday) against Russia. We’re trying to get better every time we step on the floor and I was happy about that.”
Cain laughed and reminded that you only get better by playing the best competition you can. And if that’s true, his young Buccs should be rounding into Olympic form soon.
“We had Russia on Saturday, Versailles tonight, and we have Anna coming up on Monday,” he said. “You have to play the good area teams. We’ll be pressed by some of the Cross County Conference teams, but this exposes us to teams that are of state caliber.”
And likewise, Bruggeman would be pressed to find better than the teams her Tigers will play over the next week – Russia on Saturday, followed by Marion Local on the 30th, followed by another state contender in former Division IV champ Fort Loramie on September 1st. When theyr’e done with that…they’ll meet current Division IV champion New Bremen on September 6th.
“We really don’t try to focus too much on the other side (the competition),” said Bruggeman, questioned about the importance of earlier competition.
“We always focus on our side, and what we need to do to play to our principles. We use errors as an opportunity to learn. The energy always has to come from us, and we should rely on bringing our own energy, regardless of who we play.”
And no argument from Lonnie Cain and Covington. They saw plenty of energy on Thursday – enough to light up Las Vegas in a not-so-gentle reminder. Enough to tide them over to Anna.
And no complaints!