LISBON — Locker rooms are special places in sports and Monday a locker room made a difference for WACO against No. 10 Lisbon in a Class 1A Region 8 volleyball match. It was a locker room of another team’s but the Warriors brought something to make it their own.
A poster with a list of goals helped a dejected group of girls recover for a 3-2 win and defeat Lisbon (26-5), which lost for just the second time in its last 24 matches.
“We had a bit of a mental time but we read the poster and that helped us push through,” said Lona Farrier, whose block and kill forced Lisbon to call timeout, trailing 7-4 in the decisive fifth set.
WACO (26-7) had the right person in Lindsey Roth behind the service line at the right time and keyed WACO’s run from a 4-4 tie to an 11-4 lead and a 15-5 result in the decisive fifth set.
“My goal is to make it float,” Roth said. “My arm swing is weird so maybe that helped. I just wanted to focus on keeping it in bounds.”
The Warriors advance to a regional final Wednesday at Mount Pleasant against No. 14 Notre Dame (16-5), which held off No. 8 Holy Trinity in a five-setter. The winner advances to the state tournament for the first time in school history.
Numerous double-hit calls in the third and fourth sets had taken the energy from WACO.
“The poster reminded us about us and we went out and got the job done,” said Aubrey Garnsey, who had 32 digs for WACO.
The Lions led 2-0 in Set 5, but WACO answered with the next three for its first lead since winning Set 2, although it did tie the fourth set at 7, 10, 12 and 15.
“We knew we had to keep a positive attitude because if our heads go down, we are going to lose,” said Morgan Graber, who connected on 14 kills for WACO. “We were doing a great job of keeping our heads up, no matter what happened.”
One of Grace Coble’s five blocks caused another Lisbon timeout at 10-4 in Set 5, but momentum was WACO’s.
“We had a good pep talk in the locker and that helped get momentum,” said Molly McLaughlin, who had nine kills and 22 assists.
The Warriors block was the key to the match as they recorded 21. Ella Kissell was a recent addition to the starting lineup and finished with eight.
“I think she had four in her first rotation,” WACO head coach Jay Coble said.
WACO was hot early, jumping out to a 7-2 lead that stretched to 13-6 before Set 1 ended at 25-16.
Set 2 was more of the same with McLaughlin on fire. A kill of hers knocked down a Lion for an 11-5 lead and WACO pulled away from a 17-14 score to take the set 25-18.
WACO trailed 6-3 early in Set 3, called time down 12-7, rallied to within 14-12, but lost 25-17, The Lions started Set 4 up 5-0 and won 25-21.
“The third and fourth sets were more about our passing than anything else,” Coble said. “Maybe we could’ve gone to Morgan some more because she is our bellwether.”
The double hit calls caused trouble within the heads of WACO.
“Molly got squirrley. Grace got squirrley,” Coble said.
The Warriors pulled out of it thanks to the locker room and a poster.
“I feel like the locker room changed everything,” Farrier said. “It helped pull us through mentally.”
“It’s really a team thing because when you do something good your teammates are there cheering for you,” McLaughlin said. “That makes it really fun.”
The fun continues Wednesday at Mount Pleasant where Coble coached in 2004 and took a team to the state semifinals.
“Its good karma playing there,” he said.