It was only last season that Covington was able to defeat Lafayette Central Catholic in volleyball for the first time in seven tries going back to 2013, so the Trojans faced a formidable task when they traveled to face that same opponent on the Knights’ home floor to open play in 1A Sectional 54.
Covington coach Jen Sutherlin could not have asked for a better start than her squad put forth in the first game against Central Catholic, going up 6-2, 13-3 and 17-8 on the way to a 25-14 win.
“We came out ready to play, knew what we wanted to do and executed it,” she said. “We had a lot of energy.”
That energy ebbed slightly in the second game as Covington fell behind 9-7 and 13-10 before roaring back to lead 23-15 on the way to a 25-17 win.
“I was hoping we could win in three games,” Sutherlin, “but we made a few errors here and there and they won the next one.”
That third game saw the Trojans lead through most of the first part, but they fell behind 13-10 and then further behind at 19-15 before make a comeback to lead 24-23.
A couple of mistakes at that point allowed the Knights to win 26-24 and send the match to a fourth game.
That one was forgettable for Trojan fans as for much of the contest the Knights used their depth while the Trojan legs began to weaken.
“We were definitely getting tired out there,” Sutherlin said, “but we made some good plays at the end that helped us going into game five.
The fourth game saw Central Catholic lead 9-5, 13-9, 16-12 and 23-14 before Covington began to make the plays Sutherlin spoke about to get closer at 25-18.
The fifth game was a classic as the fan bases for both teams were screaming on almost every point with Covington going up 3-1, 6-5 and then seeing the game tied at 7-all.
The Trojans took a 10-8 lead and stayed ahead through 13-12, but then the Knights scored twice to lead 14-13.
Covington tied things at 14-all, fell back 14-15 and tied the game at 15-15 before winning the final two points to take the game 17-15 and advance to the second round of the sectional on a three games to two count.
Perhaps one stat lost in the excitement of the win was that the Trojans survived three service errors in game five, but only one of which was a true error according to Sutherlin.
“The other two were attempts to serve for a score, where we were trying to place the ball where we wanted it, but were just off,” she explained, “and I have no problems with those at all.”
Sutherlin said it was the attitude of her team that allowed them to pull out the win.
“We had our chances to roll up and die out there,” she said, “but this group of players is driven by a love of the game I’ve never seen before. They were do or die in that fifth game.”
Sutherlin said she could not look ahead because the next opponent for Covington is Traders Point, a school that does not report its game through any of the normal sites such as MaxPreps.
“We’ll just go out and play our game and see what happens,” she said. “We know how we want to play so we just have to go and do it again on Saturday.”