WYOMING – Through one set in its Class 1A regional semifinal against Bellevue Marquette, No. 11 Springville looked like it had picked up right where it left off in its quarterfinal defeat of Lisbon.
The Orioles (29-10) dominated in every phase in that set, running away to a 25-10 set win.
Then came the second set, and with it a completely different feeling.
“It was completely the opposite,” Springville Coach Claude Howard said of Marquette’s 25-14 second-set win. “We lost our focus. Sometimes we get up, we get ready to play, we have our game plan, and when a team decides they’re going to fight back a bit we lose our focus.”
But like a surprise uppercut to a prize fighter, the second set served as a bit of a wakeup call for Springville, which finished off Marquette’s season last night with a 3-1 (25-10, 14-25, 25-21, 25-14) victory.
Howard said his seniors have “waited and waited and waited for these moments” and weren’t about to let a chance at a state tournament berth slip through their fingers.
“They’ve fought so hard every match, and even when they get down, they’re able to fight their way back and do it,” Howard said. “They just have it in their hearts that they don’t want to lose, and they’ll get it done some way.”
Howard, who prowls the sideline wearing his emotions on his sleeve, did his best to calm his players and get their minds right after that second set loss.
His message between the second and third was a simple one.
“Get your focus back,” Howard said. “It was really just about serve-receiving well and really pounding the ball. When we don’t serve-receive well, we get out of system, start pushing the ball and giving them free balls. Our game is strongest when we attack, attack, attack.”
A big part of that attack, Howard said, was senior Tracy Kilburg, who is second on the team in kills with 643.
Killburg said she thought the team expected momentum to stay with the Orioles from the first to the second set, and was surprised when that didn’t happen.
She said the mindset then shifted in a match that could’ve ended their season.
“Go hard or go home,” Killburg said. “Like our motto all season. (We had to be) all out, all game, all season.”
And go hard they did, never really allowing the Mohawks (15-15) a realistic glimpse at another set win on its way to the regional final.
Springville carries a 13-match win-streak into said final against No. 3 New London (37-6), which swept Calamus-Wheatland, 3-0 (25-24, 25-17, 25-13). The Orioles haven’t faced many sets like the second last night, dropping only five total sets during the streak.
If the Orioles want a trip to the U.S. Cellular center for the state tournament, Howard said he “go hard” mentality is what will keep the streak going and get them there.
“Aggressive play (is what it will take),” Howard said. “We have enough hitters out there, we’ve got enough kids that can play defense. They pay a lot of attention to holes on the floor, and really, I think we’ve some kids that when we serve well and we’re able to keep teams off balance and we attack, we’re pretty hard to beat.”