Cove coach, team relish their road warrior challenges

By Observer staff November 08, 2012 06:29 pm

COVE — From Cove to Crane. From La Pine to Klamath Falls.

Coach Darcy Carreiro and her team spent most of the final days of the volleyball season on the blacktop of eastern and southern Oregon.

It was a quest that ended in Klamath Falls where favored Hosanna Christian ended the Leopards’ 2012 season with a 3-1 victory.

After finishing third in the Old Oregon League standings, the Leopards grabbed the third-seed in the district volleyball tournament.

That meant a road trip to Crane for the first round of the state volleyball playoffs and sent the Leopards (6-4 in OOL) to meet the second-best team from the High Desert League.

The Leopards returned the more than 220 miles back to Cove with a 3-1 victory over the Lady Mustangs.

That victory earned the team a shot at the Lions from Hosanna Christian — a team that has won the Mountain West Conference for six years in a row.

That meant the Leopards were traveling again — nearly a 900-mile round trip to face Hosanna Christian.

In the space of one week, the Leopards spent more than 25 hours on the road and nearly 1,400 miles.

Cove finished the playoffs in Klamath Falls, just one victory short of returning to the state tournament.

“We traveled to La Pine Friday after being home a little more than 24 hours from Crane,” said the coach. “We practiced in La Pine Saturday morning and traveled the rest of the way to Klamath Falls to play.”

The long back-to-back trips didn’t keep the Leopards from winning the first game against the Lions. “The girls came out on fire in the first game, playing at our pace and setting the tempo of the game we wanted to play.

“The girls hit the ball consistently across the board. We were super solid from the serving line, only having two errors the entire match,” Carreiro said.

Cove had knocked the favored Lions back on their heels, the coach added.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the girls’ heart and determination. They played like true champions.

“They had set goals early in the season to get to this point. Their hard work and determination has paid off. They have improved their play by leaps and bounds over last season,” the coach said.

The Leopards struggled with ball handling in the third and fourth games, the coach added.

“Even though it was a loss on the books, it was a huge victory for me to see this group of girls come together, stay focused and play tough, Carreiro said.

“The girls had an amazing season (14-9) and should feel satisfied to finish in the top 14 of the state this year.”

Cove loses Nikoa Murchison, Renee Mills, Alyssa Hamilton and Lindsey Hulse to graduation — but they have a 2010 state title to relish, the coach said.

“Nikoa was perfect serving with two aces, 20 assists and two digs. Renee was a perfect 11 for 11 serving, five kills and two blocks,” she said. Mikayla Murchison had three aces, two kills and one block. Hannah Hulse was 10 for 10 serving, with seven kills.