With its first ever trip to the NJCCAA national tournament at stake, the Walters State women’s volleyball team will get one more chance to take down No. 5-ranked Catawba Valley in the Southeast District Championship. The Red Hawks and Lady Senators have squared off three times this season, with CVCC winning all three.
Needless to say, coach Megan Blaylock had little trouble motivating her team this week.
“We’ve been hitting it hard in practice,” Blaylock said. “We’ve studied film. We’ve broken down stats. I think we’re pretty prepared, as prepared as we can be. This is do-or-die. You come to play or you go home. I think the girls are feeling that, that this could be their last game. You can tell at practice that they don’t want it to be.”
The Lady Senators (20-8) come into the game celebrating their third consecutive Region VII tournament championship. WSCC didn’t drop a set in region play this season and recorded 17 3-0 sweeps. And while it’s a testament to Walters State’s talent level, their regional opponents make preparing for a team like the Red Hawks a challenge.
“It’s difficult,” Blaylock said. “The competition level is different. Catawba is ranked No. 5 and no one in our region is ranked currently.”
Catawba Valley (32-4) swept the Lady Senators in two matches this season, with WSCC taking them to five sets on Oct. 12 in the Wallace State Invitational. The Red Hawks handed Walters State its only home loss of the season, winning 3-0 at ‘Z’ Buda Gymnasium on Oct. 29.
“We didn’t perform well,” Blaylock said. “A couple of girls had a good night, but everybody else had an off night. I don’t know if it was because we were following up our region tournament or we were in a weird groove after that.”
Last year CVCC ended the Lady Senators’ season 3-0 on Nov. 3 in the Region X, District 0 Championship. Only two players from that Walters State team returned, sophomores Courtney Dotson and Alexis Wakefield.
“I think, more than anything, we need to have enough behind our effort,” Blaylock said. “It’s going to come down to guts and if we put everything into it. We’ve been practicing all the technical work this week. By this point in the season, you’re not going to get any better skill-wise.”
First serve is set for 2 p.m. Saturday at the Tarlton Complex in Hickory, N.C.