Edna overpowers Industrial in coaching reunion
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EDNA-- The pupil meeting the professional may have been compelling to some. But most of the people who stuffed into the Edna gym Tuesday night were more interested in the rivalry between the Cowgirls and Industrial.
Under Sandy Fellers, Industrial volleyball has dominated its district opponents, including Edna, over the past five seasons.
Considering that, Edna's 25-12, 19-25, 25-10, 25-11 victory over the Cobras was a mental hurdle for the Cowgirls, said head coach Rachel Collins.
"It's the biggest game I've ever played," said Edna junior outside hitter Madison Kucera, whose 16 kills led all players. "That is the most excitement (I've had, especially) the fact we beat them when we've always fallen off and lost bad."
Entering Tuesday, Industrial (13-6, 1-1) won 29 of its last 31 district matches. Its last district loss was 23 months ago to Edna. Collins is the Cowgirls third coach since that three-game victory in October 2010.
"Every time they play, it's like a state championship game," Fellers said. "It's a really big deal. Definitely, it's a school rivalry. It has nothing to do with Rachel and me. It's the schools."
Collins, a former middle blocker/defensive specialist for the Cobras and 2003 graduate, is in her first year at the helm. She considers Fellers, her former coach, one of her coaching influences - along with Calhoun head coach Virginia Parsons and her college coach Ron Howard - for her lessons on and off the court.
"I've always looked up to her as a coach and as a person," Collins said about Fellers. "She shows girls how they need to be in life. She knows how to push them to their limits, and more."
Now, Collins is passing those lessons to another generation of girls. Kucera and classmate Natasha Evans said their newest coach has taught them togetherness and teamwork.
"We've learned to come to the middle of the court and pick each other up, even when were winning and when we're down," Evans said.
The two juniors formed a devastating pair on offense. Kucera's all-court power was frequently too much for the youthful Cobras. Evans, as a middle hitter, was a nuisance on both ends. Evans had nine kills, seven blocks and 11 assists for Edna (13-7, 2-0.)
"For me, this group of girls has so much talent. It's about using it to the best of their ability," Collins said.
As much as Collins respects the Cobras and their coach, she said beating them was a hurdle her team had to overcome if they are to meet their goals.
Meanwhile, as the Cobras prepare for Bloomington on Friday, and the rest of District 30-2A play, Fellers said the team must find a way to bounce back.
For Industrial, Senior McKenna Zacek had a double-double with 16 digs and 14 kills, both of which were team highs. Fellow senior McKayla Lenamon added eight kills with 18 assists and 13 digs.
"We definitely have our work cut out for us, particularly the seniors," Fellers said. "The younger kids, they are just feeling things out. They don't have a history or a precedent. The seniors, we are going to look for some leadership from them and try to regroup."
Those two are the only seniors on a very youthful squad. Industrial has five first-year players - two freshmen, three sophomores - in its starting lineup.
But, the night belonged to the Cowgirls, not the coaches, for either side.
"It was amazing," Evans said. "We've been working for this since Aug. 6. We work together, we're motivated and it was so awesome."