|A COMEBACK FOR THE AGES...
Down two games to one, the Covington Lady Buccs rallied to win games four and five to advance to the Sectional Final.
OCTOBER 16, 2007 - SIDNEY
When Shelby Hoblit pounded out the final kill of the night for Covington, it capped one of the most impressive comebacks the Lady Buccs have had in recent memory.
And it came with the season on the line.
"This was one of the most fun wins I've every been involved in," said Covington coach Jim Smith. "The way the girls hung in there and came back like they did really makes this one special."
After overcoming a 10-16 deficit to steal the first game 25-23, Covington fell apart in the second and third games - losing 16-25 and 9-25 to Houston in the sectional tournament at Sidney High School.
Then, in the fourth game Covington fell behind 1-7 and appeared to have unraveled under the pressure of tournament play.
"The girls were getting frustrated," Smith explained. "When you get frustrated you lose your focus. That's what was happening to us is we were frustrated."
But a timeout called by Smith may have extended Covington's season.
"I called a lot of timeouts tonight," Smith said. "But that particular one I focused on the positive. We talked about getting focused and doing the things the way we know how to do them. It must have worked because the girls were a totally different team after that."
Behind a dominate performance by Holly Tobias, the Lady Buccs battled back to take a 12-11 lead. Six of the points that got Covington back into the game was while Tobias was serving.
"Holly is starting to take over games now," said Smith. "She has gotten tougher. We were never able to use her like we wanted in the first three games because our passing wasn't very good, but once we were able to get her involved she took over."
Covington used the momentum to its advantage and eventually captured a 25-16 win to extend the match to a fifth game.
After trailing early in each of the first four games, Covington managed to get off to a fast start in the final game and built a 7-4 lead to force a Houston timeout.
"We played with a lot of emotion in the fifth game," Smith described. "The way we finished the fourth game carried over."
The Lady Wildcats managed to cut the margin to 12-9, but an Erin Christian kill and a tip by Kailie Tobias gave Covington and opportunity to serve out game-point with a 14-9 lead.
Houston wouldn't go quietly as it recorded a kill and then served an ace to cut the lead to 14-11.
But Hoblit found a perfect quick set by Kailie Tobias and put the ball down for the winning point as the Lady Buccs celebrated on the floor.
"I'm happy that we were able to get the win," Smith said. "But I'm more proud of the girls because of the way they stuck together when things were going bad. That's why we were able respond the way we did."
Another reason was Covington's blocking at the net. The Lady Buccs recorded 43 blocks that resulted in points. Holly Tobias had 15, Shelby Hoblit 12, and Amanda Sprankle and Alyssa Angle each had 8.
"Blocking has become our strength," Smith said. "It kept us in the game tonight. They (Houston) were killing us in the middle, so we triple blocked them in the fourth game. Suddenly, they stopped hitting."
The victory puts Covington into the sectional final on Saturday against Jackson Center.
"We look forward to playing them again," Smith concluded. "Reaching the sectional finals is a huge accomplishment for us considering where we were earlier of the year. We'll focus now on trying to win it."