Cougars out to nab regional title, avenge pair of tournament losses
Looking for redemption
TRURO - These aren't the Cobequid Cougars of a year ago.
They don't pretend to be the team that didn't lose a match last season.
But that doesn't make these Cougars any less of a threat on the provincial Division 1 high school girls volleyball scene.
The Cougars have won six of the nine tournaments they've entered this season and are looking to make it 7-for-10 Saturday as they try to nail down the Northumberland region title and a berth at provincials. They'll have to get through the rival Dr. John Hugh Gillis Royals and North Nova Gryphons to do it.
"It's going to come down to whether we're able to serve-receive consistently and attack consistently," said coach Bob Piers. "(The Royals) are very much a team of momentum and if they get a four, five, six-point run on you they feed off that so we'll need to stop that."
Despite posting yet another strong season, the Cougars enter the weekend with some question marks. After winning six of their first seven events this season, Cobequid has come up short in its past two. At both tournaments, and even those they've won, the Cougars open big leads on their opponents only to let them
"It's been something that's plagued us," Piers said.
It's been a mystery for the players too.
"I've been thinking about it for the past three weeks and I don't know," said senior Anastasia Callaghan. "We're not lacking in any certain area, we just seem to build a big lead and let it go."
That hiccup cost the Cougars a win against the Royals in their last meeting in the final of the Husky Cup at Saint Mary's University, lowering Cobequid's record against their rival to 3-1 on the season. With North Nova being a weak squad this season, the stage looks set for the Cougars and Royals to duke it out for the title.
"They're planning for us and we're planning for them," Piers said.
Now the Cougars are more determined than ever to hold those leads.
"I think the losses have really motivated us," said fellow senior Kiersten Cormier. "We really want to come back and win and redeem ourselves."
Although the Cougars have known all along that taking their foot off the gas, intentionally or not, is never a good idea, the recent setbacks have clearly illustrated that point.
"Like Piers says, you have to play with determination, not trepidation," Callaghan said. "I find we're a really determined team because we never give up and we're always fighting.
"Every player is willing to work hard and we have the capability to fight back."
That's a quality that will serve Cobequid well inside the intimidating confines of the Gillis gym against a well-coached team that always shows up with a game plan. That's something Callaghan knows all too well. In a match last year the Royals served every ball to her, trying to force her to make a mistake.
"They are always tough," Callaghan said. "They try to pick out your weaknesses. They targeted me for the last two years and now they've moved on to Heather (Mills)."
The Cougars won a tournament hosted by the Royals earlier this season, showing they can stay on their game in Gillis territory.
"That's a good sign,"?Piers said. "But they'll be tough and ready for us."
The Cougars #2 squad will be competing at Division 2 regionals hosted by South Colchester Academy this weekend.