COVE HAS A STATE TITLE TO DEFEND

November 07, 2002 12:00 am
HIGH FIVING: Cove's Kelcie Robinson (right) and her setter Jessie Johnson are ready for all-comers at the state tournament in Springfield. (The Observer/PIERRE LaBOSSIERE).
HIGH FIVING: Cove's Kelcie Robinson (right) and her setter Jessie Johnson are ready for all-comers at the state tournament in Springfield. (The Observer/PIERRE LaBOSSIERE).

COVE — They're the defending state champions, and they know full well they're going to have a big bulls-eye painted on their backs in Springfield this weekend.

Still, the Cove volleyball girls have the attitude of "bring 'em on."

Cove is returning to state as the No. 1 seed out of the district. They know what it takes to win the state championship because they went through it last year.

Pretty much all the other teams at state know Cove well from last year's tournament, too.

"Oh yeah, everybody's out to get us," said Kelcie Robinson.

Melissa Smith said that because of Cove's reputation. "Everyone at the beginning of the year wanted to beat us."

By mid-season, everyone was gunning for Wallowa, because the Cougars had gone out and beat everyone after dropping down from 2A to 1A.

After several tries this season, Cove finally beat Wallowa at the district tournament last week. Wallowa then lost to Powder Valley and won't be making the trip to state.

Robinson said there's a lesson to be learned for Cove.

"Never think you're totally ahead" of everyone else, she said.

The girls ran a highly spirited and boisterous practice Wednesday for their final night of drills together. It was slowly dawning on seniors Smith and Robinson during the week that this would be their final night of practice together.

"I don't even want to think about it," Smith said. "It just makes me sad."

"It is really sad, but it makes practice more intense," Robinson said.

Cove coach Kim Tally said last year's experience will be invaluable for the girls this year. All six of the team's starters were on that state championship team last year.

"It's going to make them mentally tougher. I think they know what to expect," Tally said.

Robinson said winning the championship last year "makes me want to win it one more time."

Tally said she had a long talk with the girls about Wallowa's experience at district. She stressed that the team must stay focused and take it one game at a time.

Powder Valley, which finished second at state last year, also qualified for state again this year.