By Rob Kiser
ARCANUM — After watching his team drop the first set to Twin Valley South in the Division IV sectional semifinal Wednesday at Arcanum, Covington coach Lonnie Cain had a message for his team.
“We had a lot of fans there,” Cain said. “One of the first things I told the girls is you don’t want to disappoint the fans who drove all the way to come support you.”
When that didn’t work and Covington trailed 8-4 early in the second set, Cain’s message got more specific.
After calling a timeout, he spent the entire timeout talking to seniors Ashley Cecil, Rachel York and Savanna Schaurer.
“I just told them not to disappoint themselves,” Cain said. “Up to that point, we just hadn’t shown the leadership out on the floor. I told them they have to deserve to win. That is a motto we have in Covington. The football team has it, and so do we. I said you are not ready for this run to end yet, are you?”
Cain got the answer he was looking for as the Buccs responded with a 14-25, 25-21, 25-16, 25-16 win to even their record at 12-12.
Covington will play second-seeded Fort Loramie for a sectional title at 3 p.m. Saturday.
“This is two tournament wins in one season,” Cain said. “Monday, I wondered why the girls were clapping so much and they said, ‘Coach this is the first time we have won a tournament game’. Coming from Lehman where they won something like 25 district titles in a row …”
The turnaround after the timeout in the second set was almost immediate.
After a net foul by South, York served two points, including an ace to get Covington within 8-7. Breanna Kimmel then had a kill and served three points — including an ace — as Covington took an 11-9 lead.
The Buccs were trailing 18-16 before a big serving run by York.
She served five straight points, including an ace and kill by Breanna Kimmel and Covington led 22-18.
“Rachel (York) had a big night serving,” Cain said. “She had been spotty all year, but I remembered she had a good match against South serving during the season, and I was hoping seeing a team she had success with on the other side of the net, that would give her confidence.”
After several sideouts, Legend Patty finished things off at 24-21 with a kill.
“Legend (Patty) had one of the top hitting percentages in the conference,” Cain said. “For a long time, we were trying to play her at right side and using her blocking, but we finally realized we need her hitting at outside hitter.”
While the third set was close, Covington led throughout.
An untimely rotation error on South, put Breanna Kimmel in position to finish things off at 24-16 with a kill.
“Breanna (Kimmel) had nine kills in our previous match, which was a season high and she matched that tonight,” Cain said.
Between the third and fourth sets, Covington fans joined the team in clapping and cheering to the music as the South players looked across from the other bench, stunned.
And Patty got the Buccs off to a fast start in set four.
She had eight kills in that set alone, including five in the early going. That, along with aces from Cecil, Patty and Brie Dieperink helped Covington jump out to an 11-4 lead.
Lilli Hamilton had a couple big kills in the middle, but South closed to within 15-13 midway through the set.
“Lilli (Hamilton) does a great job of selling the slide and that opens things up for our hitters,” Cain said.
Patty then had four kills in quick order to take the lead to 20-14 and Covington rode that momentum to victory.
“Brie (setter Brie Dieperink) does a great job getting everyone involved,” Cain said. “But Legend (Patty) had 20 kills and only two hitting errors. When you have someone like that, there are times where you just have to get her the ball and keep feeding her.”
Patty also had 23 digs and two aces, while Breanna Kimmel had nine kills and three aces and Hamilton had seven kills.
York added four kills, three aces and 12 digs, while Schaurer had three kills, five digs and one assist.
Dieperink had 38 assists, eight digs and one ace; Lindsey Kimmel had 10 digs and one ace and Cecil led the defense with 33 digs and added an ace.
Now, Covington gets ready for a tough challenge Saturday — after giving Cain and the Bucc fans the answer they were looking for Wednesday night.
* Boys Soccer
TROY — The Division I sectional semifinal boys soccer game between No. 4 Troy and No. 5 Fairmont Thursday at Troy Memorial Stadium was postponed by rain.
The game was rescheduled for 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Troy Memorial Stadium.
Rob Kiser can be reached at (937) 451-3334.