ELNORA — Entering a first-year of coaching can be a tricky business, even if you’ve been around the block like Rebecca Hays at North Daviess.
Hays took the reins of the volleyball Cougars after serving as an assistant to Ruthanne Burkhart, and knew the foundation for a good season had been laid.
“She (Ruthanne) really focused on the fundamentals,” Hays said. She built our passing, and once that was there, the hitting could begin from there.”
That foundation turned into a record-setting season for the Cougars who enter this evening’s home match with Pike Central with a 22-10 mark — the most wins in a single season for a North Daviess team.
“I expected a good season from them,” Hays said of her Cougars. “I expected it because I knew their potential.”
Hays said the team had a meeting at the midway point of the season to look at their matches remaining, potential victories, and what goals might be reasonable.
“I wanted them to look at the way we had to play and how many games we really wanted to win,” Hays said. “Obviously, you want to win every time you play, but I wanted them to set a goal that was realistic. They’ve pushed for that since. I think once we set a goal, they started to hold themselves to a standard. So far, they have done that.”
That goal happens to 23 wins. While the team has set the single-season record for the number of wins, that 23 total is yet to be met. The opportunity comes against the Chargers.
“We’re still hoping to get there,” Hays said. “We’re working to get that goal.”
Not wanting to forget the goal, North Daviess set a reminder of that 23-win mark in the locker room to see every day.
“They wrote down the number of wins we needed to get the goal,” Hays said. “After each win, they wrote one less win. It’s the first thing they see when they go in. It has served as a constant reminder of what they wanted this season.”
The Cougar coach believes her team is on the verge of that goal, playing as a team. She really doesn’t have one or two players the team must have each night to play well. Working together has been key.
“Our senior leadership has been good (Cari Jo Wilson, Larynda Keith, Alexis Brewer and Janae Wagler), but there really isn’t just one or two players we have to look to,” Hays said.
“They are really a team. They’re sisters with a real chemistry. They have fun together.”
With the one match left, the Cougars will prepare for their match against Barr-Reeve next week to open the Loogootee Class A Sectional Oct. 18. The state-ranked Vikings and Loogootee will be favored before the tournament begins.
“When the kids saw the draw they said we would probably have to beat Barr-Reeve to have a chance to win the sectional,” Hays said. “We really haven’t talked much about the sectional yet, because we had three matches this week. So, they said if we have to do that, we might as well get to it right out of the gate.”
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