By DOUG EADS, CJ Correspondent
Make it 70 games in a row and counting for the Southwestern Lady Warrior volleyball team.
Thanks to last night’s 3-1 win over Burgin in the semi finals of the Girl’s 12th Region Volleyball Tournament, Skip Cottrell’s club ran its winning streak to 70 wins in a row over 12th Regional opponents.
And, with Wednesday night’s 25-7, 21-25, 25-16, 25-6 victory over the Lady Bulldogs, Cottrell and company are now only one win away from a fifth consecutive regional championship.
Can you say ‘Dynasty’?
“I don’t know if I would call us a dynasty or not, but I do know our girls have worked really hard for this and they’ve earned every single win along the way,” stated Cottrell, after his club moved to within one win of a fifth consecutive 12th Regional crown with last night’s win over Burgin.
“It didn’t come by chance, and it didn’t come by anything else other than hard work,” added the Southwestern coach. “They come to the gym every day at practice ready to get after it.”
The Lady Warriors hadn’t lost a set to a regional opponent all season long — let alone a match — and things certainly didn’t appear to be headed in any different direction last night against Burgin.
Southwestern cruised to an impressive, 25-7 win in game one of the match, but then a funny thing happened — somebody forgot to tell the Lady Bulldogs they were supposed to go down without a fight.
Burgin came roaring back to knot this match up at 1-1, by winning the second set over a stunned Lady Warrior squad 25-21, handing Southwestern it’s first loss of a set all season long to a regional foe.
“We came out with such intensity in game one tonight, and I was so proud of them, because in that first set everybody was just on,” Cottrell stated.
“When you have an easy set like that, even some of the best teams in the country will have spells where they don’t play well, and I thought we were guilty of that tonight in the second set,” said Cottrell. “Obviously, we missed three of the first four serves in that set, which put us in a hole. And, a couple of balls fell in that I felt like we would have gotten to in game one when we were playing with intensity. So, yes we did lose a little focus in set two, but we came back strong for the rest of the match.”
Indeed, after seeing Burgin come back from the dead to knot this affair up at a game apiece, Southwestern finally seized control of things by winning game three by a 25-16 score, and then put the Lady Bulldogs away in a rout in game four, 25-6.
With the win last night, Southwestern improved to 28-10 on the year, and did indeed run its winning streak against 12th Regional teams to 70 victories in a row.
However and more importantly, Southwestern moved to tonight’s championship game of the tournament, where the Lady Warriors will be seeking their fifth consecutive regional title.
“Every year we come up with some kind of a slogan before the season gets underway, and this year we came up with ‘Strive for Five’,” stated the Lady Warrior coach.
“They’ve had that on their backs for most of the year, and they’re excited about it, because that was our goal for most of the year,” Cottrell remarked. “They’re pretty focused, and I would much rather go into a tournament being the four-time champion and going in as the favorite. We’re comfortable in that position, we’re confident, we feel good, and I really like our team.”
Erin Cottrell had another big game last night for Southwestern, registering 17 kills, 14 digs, and four aces in the win over Burgin.
Kelsie Adams chipped in with 13 kills and 16 digs, while McKayla Wilson tallied nine digs and notched three aces.
Chelsey Mitchell added six aces and five digs, while Bryanna Strunk came up with a pair of blocks.
In tonight’s championship game of the Girl’s 12th Region Volleyball Tournament, it will be an all local affair, as the Lady Warriors will run up against Pulaski County.
In last night’s second semi final match, the Lady Maroons rolled to an impressive, 3-0 win over West Jessamine.
Tonight’s championship game of the regional tournament is slated to get underway at 6:30 p.m. from Mercer County High School, and will be a rematch of last season’s regional final.
Also, yesterday the Kentucky Volleyball Coaches Association (KVCA) announced its sixth annual Region Players and Region Coaches of the Year Awards.
Skip Cottrell was named as the 12th Regional Coach of the Year for the third consecutive year, making him the only coach in the state to have won this award three times.
Meanwhile, Erin Cottrell was named as the 12th Regional Player of the Year, repeating as the winner of that award for the second consecutive season.