Cobras reminisce and recover
By Millie Diaz
I struggled between writing a column or an article about the close of the Cobra volleyball season, and decided to write it in first person because of what I experienced meeting with the team, their manager and their head coach last week in Vanderbilt.
I chatted a minute with the underclassmen first, and their comments caused the five seniors to shed some tears. Then I talked candidly with the seniors, empathized with their regrets, and hugged each of them. Lastly I spoke alone with Jenna Treybig, volleyball head coach, and she said something that gave me a new perspective on their loss to Goliad.
“They’re disappointed in themselves, but they feel like they let their school, their classmates, the fans down,” she said. “And they’re not okay with that yet.”
Then I reminded myself for the 100th time this season: these are 17 and 18-year old girls who don’t see themselves like the warriors they are. They aren’t the team who lost their last game, they’re the team who won every match before it. They were the reason for driving their classmates wild in the stands with Cobra spirit, and the fans proud to be an Industrial Cobra (Kevin Baez and his state gold cross-country medal didn’t hurt either).
But to them, they weren’t good enough and fell short of the mark.
“We just want to have one more shot at Goliad, just to give it all we got,” Sarah Kusak said. “We started to freak out when the points weren’t going in our favor. Then Treybig has to remind us we’re playing too tight and need to loosen up and play our game.”
Lexey Mikulec commented on the team’s mental block against Goliad, something they’ve been fighting for more than one season. “We don’t perform well against them, so when we came out and won the first game, we were like yes, we can do this. Then the next couple of sets didn’t go in our favor and it all fell apart.”
Skylar Lenamon said when her team came back from losing two sets against Corpus Christi London the day before, it was a huge eye-opener for her. “We hadn’t seen a loss in awhile but I saw that fight in us, when we set our mind to something we can do it.”
“Most teams would’ve crumbled at that point,” Kusak said.
Savhannah Kitchens nodded. “In the game against Goliad, it was nothing they were doing, we were in our heads and lost the game, rather than them winning it.”
It was clear the girls hadn’t gotten over their loss, but their underclassmen reminded them of the strength they possessed and shared.
Katelynn Stout said she’s learned to keep a cool head playing with the girls. “Making mistakes are okay.”
Maddison Stanush nodded. “Playing with them was intimidating because they’re so good, but it makes you a better player.”
Setter Maddison Heibel said it’s going to take some time to get to the seniors’ absence. “I’ve played with them for three years and to not have them on the court with me, it’s going to be tough. I’ve looked up to all of them and now I have to fill their shoes.”
Kylann Griffith said her best game was against Johnson City. “I had five or six blocks and it pumped up the momentum for the game.”
When Griffith commented that because of their past victories, the team felt they needed to do as well if not better than last year, her teammates nodded in agreement.
Treybig said there are always factors to a team loss, and after beating Goliad once and losing to them once before the teams headed into the Regional semifinal match. “They were physically exhausted and I think it played into their mental block against Goliad.”
Manager Reagan Doyle said her heart was going non-stop during any game. The team showed me a picture where Doyle is jumping off of the bench after a win with the biggest smile.
Chloe Darilek looked at their loss from a different perspective. She’s proud of how far the team progressed. “I feel bad I’m not tearing up, but I think we did great, we went far.”
I laughed when the girls talked about their sleepovers and the jamming out on the bus.
“Every practice was like a little party,” Mikulec said.
“We’re like one big family and I’ve never felt so close to a team in my life,” Kusak said.
Treybig wanted to say thank you to the parents, fans and school support. “It has meant the world to them.”
If you are see a Cobra volleyball player, tell them thank you for the way they represented their school. It’s a difficult job putting that much pressure on their backs, and the girls haven’t gotten over their loss yet.
Statistics for their final games can be found on page 7B.
It’s been a joy covering these ladies, and I look forward to bonding with other teams the way I have them.
It’s not about the loss or the mistakes, it’s about how you deal with them.