First, they were sent three hours away to go play in a Class 4A regional against a team that had been beaten twice all season.
Second, they dropped the first game in the regional title match and had to win three-out-of-four games to advance to the state tournament.
Third, they had to overcome a 1-minute, 30-second match point in the fifth game.
Who conquered all these obstacles on their way to clinching a third-straight spot in the state tournament? The Southwest Covenant volleyball team.
The Patriots entered Thursday’s regional final match against host Tahlequah-Sequoyah as the underdog, but that didn’t stop them.
Southwest Covenant lost the opening game 25-22, but showed resiliency in the second game with a 30-28 win to tie the match. The Patriots struggled in the third game losing 25-12, but again battled back to even the score with a 25-18 victory in game four.
Then came the fifth and deciding game. The Patriots had yet to beat the regional favorite in two consecutive games and the crowd was heavily in favor of the home team. Southwest Covenant had tunnel vision and the light at the end of the tunnel was the state tournament calling its name.
The Patriots faced match point up 16-15. It was the longest rally of the night. Both teams wanted the point, and competed with all their might. After a minute-and-a-half, Southwest Covenant prevailed and its ticket was punched to the Class 4A Volleyball State Tournament.
The previous two seasons the Patriots went to the state tournament, they did so in Class 3A. This will be their first experience in Class 4A.
Southwest Covenant had to beat Verdigris in the regional semifinal to earn a trip to the title match. The Patriots swept their first regional foe with a 30-28 win in the first game after trailing 23-17, a 25-21 win in the second game and a 25-22 victory in the third.