SOUTHINGTON -Reset and refocus.
That is the tactic the Southington girls volleyball team uses when it’s falling behind, but in this case fallen.
The Blue Knights (18-1) suffered their first loss of the season, a 3-2 upset, in the second round of the CCC Tournament Tuesday evening against No. 8 Farmington.
Southington finished its regular season, completely undefeated, something the team hasn’t done since 2004.
From the years 2008-11, the Blue Knights posted 17-1 records, claiming the Class LL title in 2009 and were runners up in 2011.
Some would think with such a remarkable record, comes the pressure to be perfect and to win every game.
“We’re reading Pat Riley’s ‘A Winner Within’ this season,” Southington head coach Rich Heitz said. “They talk about a lot of stuff like the growth of a team and certain things. It’s human nature where a little complacency sets in whether it’s at practice or games and that’s a challenge to get over that.”
But the girls didn’t think that way.
“I don’t think we had any pressure to always win,” Southington outside hitter Haley Labbree said. “I think we just kept our focus on one game at a time. We try to keep that pressure out of our heads and just focus on what we can control.”
After the loss, Southington will be planning on using the next couple days to prepare for the larger task at hand, the Class LL Tournament.
“We try to find the good in any adversity,” Heitz said. “So we’re going to take this as a learning experience, a chance to come out stronger next time, a chance to learn a lesson to never give up, especially when you’re up 2-0. We’re going to try to find the good in it and move on.”
Like Heitz said, Southington was up 2-0 going into the third set but once the fatigue kicked in one could tell the Blue Knights were losing energy.
“I thought we still did well,” Southington right side Jenna Martin said. “Our sevicy was off a little so we got out of system and it was harder for us to make plays that they couldn’t return.”
Servicy passing was one of the underlying reasons why Southington was doing so well this season.
“I think our ball control and our servicy passing was off,” Larrabee said. “And if that was better we could have set up a stronger offense and maybe made it easier on our defense.”
The team can now break down the mistakes to make sure they don’t recur during the tournament. Southington is still currently ranked in the top spot and will most likely receive a bye for the first round.
“We just have to lean on each other,” Martin said. “We know that we need to have intensity and to have each other’s backs in order to stay in the game. I think if we go into the state tournament with that mindset and just practice hard the next couple days then we’ll be fine.”
“We’re going to go into the tournament with the mindset we go into our games with,” Larrabee said. “We have to reset and refocus and focus on our next challenge. But we’re not going to look too far ahead into the future, it’s more important to just focus on the next match.”
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860)801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org