By Chuck Reherman
MOORE – Southwest Covenant has reached the volleyball state tournament the last three years in a row.
And, in each of those years, the Lady Patriots have had to play the No. 1 seed.
The third year was probably the most toughest challenge of them all.
SWCS faced No. 1 and four-time defending state champion Christian Heritage Academy of Del City in the opening round of the class 4A State Volleyball Tournament and liked their two previous appearance, made an early exit.
CHA, 33-4, handed the Lady Patriots a 25-4, 25-15 and 25-17 setback Friday morning at Moore High School.
SWCS finished their season with a 24-8 record and the one bright star that comes from this state tournament finish is that the Lady Patriots will return their entire team intact next season.
Christian Heritage Academy came and a set the tempo of the match early on by scoring the first four points of the opening set and rolling to an 11-1 lead. The Lady Patriots couldn’t regain their composure in that opening set and were down 1-0 early.
“We came out looking a little more out of place and nervous than I thought we would,” SWCS head coach Samantha Lindsey said. “We definitely were initimidated. The first 10 points they scored, they hardly even swung at a ball and we looked scared and like we didn’t know what we were doing.
“After that first set we settled down a little bit and were playing a lot more balls,” she said. “We were more aggressive and that’s what I was looking for. Do I think it was our best match, not by any means, but it was an amazing experience for us. We don’t lose anyone and we will only be better next year.
“We are going to take this year and we will be back and looking for a better showing next year.”
The Lady Patriots fell behind 17-3 and then used kills from Olivia Curtis and Jessica Souza to open a 22-4 lead. CHA scored the final three points to win the first set 25-4.
The Lady Patriots showed they had settled down after that first set. SWCS jumped out to a 5-0 lead keyed by an Emma Riggs kill and a Macie Noland ace. But, down 6-1, CHA turned things around and went on a 7-0 run to take an 8-6 lead.
Down 11-7, Alex Davis’ kill made it 11-8, but CHA went on another run and opened a 17-10 lead.
A Davis kill made it 19-12 and an Anna Bell block made it 21-13. SWCS did cut the lead to 23-15, then CHA scored two straight to take the set 25-15.
“They have a bunch of seniors and have really good ball control,” Lindsey said. “They got us back on our heels a little bit and that makes it hard to react to balls.
“This being our first time in 4A we were a little intimidated and a it showed,” she said. “When we went to state the first time in 3A, we went through the same thing and then played better the next year. Hopefully we will do that next year.”
SWCS scored the first point of the third set and did lead 6-5 and 8-7 on a kill by Noland. CHA came back to take a 12-8 lead. SWCS used a kill from Kylie Moseley to cut the lead to 14-12. SWCS made it 15-14 and 16-15. CHA ran off three points to lead 19-16 and 21-16.
A Noland kill cut the lead to 21-17 but was the last point for the Lady Patriots. CHA reeled off the final four points.
“The experience factor played a lot in this match and they have one of the best players in the state (Curtis) and that doesn’t make things easier,” Lindsey said. “I am happy, the girls had a great season and this just made us hungry for next season.
“There is nothing to hang our heads about after this match,” Lindsey said. “They are the four time defending state champions and this is our first time in 4A. I think we will utilize this for next year. We have only been the eighth seed three years in a row and the goal will be to do everything we can to not being the eighth seed next year.”