Finishing the focus for Sevier County volleyball
Jaimee Benjamin and her Sevier County coaching staff made keychains with one word on them after the Bearettes took Seymour to a fifth game last week: finish.
“They wore them on their volleyball bags to school,” Benjamin said. “We just really try to embed that in their head: finish on every point.”
It was a lesson not quite absorbed for two games on Monday in a do-or-die District 2-AAA opener with Jefferson County. After taking the first two against the Patriots, Sevier County let the next two slip away before storming home with a 25-17, 25-14, 21-25, 22-25, 15-3 victory at Seymour High School.
Now into the double-elimination rounds, which began at South-Doyle High School on Tuesday, the Bearettes have to finish.
“It shouldn’t have been that way,” said Brittany Tarr. “We shouldn’t have let up like we did.”
Tarr was tough for Jefferson County to handle, prowling the net and generating multiple blocks sometimes on the same point. It was her smash in the fifth that gave Sevier County match point at 14-2.
Finally, the Bearettes had shown they could finish.
“You’ve just got to stay focused and believe in yourself to finish the game,” said sophomore Makenize Mattern. “We know we can do it. We just have to actually do it.”
Mattern powered her team in the fifth, winning six straight service points. That gave the Bearettes an 8-1 lead, a nearly insurmountable edge in a 15-point tiebreaker. This time, closing out the victory was easy.
“I’d been missing (serves),” Mattern said. “It’s just a focus thing. You’ve got to stay focused and keep them in. It doesn’t matter how strong they are as long as you keep them in.”
The Bearettes twice had a game lead on Seymour last Thursday before letting the district’s regular season champion recover to win in five, 15-12. That inspired a renewed focus on finishing off opponents with the keychains. Benjamin’s team broke their huddle with chants of finish on Monday.
It wasn’t until the fifth game that Sevier County showed just how merciless its finishing can be. That’s what Benjamin wants to see. The coach won’t let her team forget how they stumbled last week so the Bearettes will close out opponents this week.
“That’s all we kept talking about, how we didn’t finish with Seymour,” Benjamin said. “We kept bringing that up to the girls and how that isn’t an option anymore. If we want to move on, we have to finish.
“During practice that’s all we talk about: Seymour game, Seymour game, we did not finish. That’s not an option anymore.”