Program taking gigantic steps toward relevance

ConVal has more than doubled its program record for wins in a season and it’s not even half way through 2013

I know it’s still early. Believe me I know.

But that won’t stop me from acknowledging what the ConVal girls volleyball team has accomplished thus far.

Yes, I am well aware that the Cougars have not even reached the midway point of their season. And I understand that a lot can happen over the final nine matches of the regular season. But what this team has done in 2013 is quite impressive.

Through seven matches, the Cougars stand at 5-2 and in sole possession of fifth place in Division III. And not only are they three games over .500 for the first time in program history, but that is more matches than a single team has won in a given year since ConVal added a varsity program in 2010.

The previous record for wins in a season was set last year with two, which included the program’s first varsity victory. The Cougars equaled that mark in just the fourth match of this season and have been a roll ever since.

Entering Friday’s homecoming contest with Sunapee, the Cougars have won four straight matches, including a 3-2 come-from-behind win over Mascenic on Monday.

Just to put that into context, ConVal won twice as many matches over an eight-day span than they did in the first three-plus years as a varsity program.

To the team’s defense, the first two years were unfair. ConVal had no business playing in Division II as a new program, but had to because of its initial classification.

Once they dropped down to D-III, it felt like a more reasonable spot. Last year was an improvement, but this season has been leaps and bounds above what anybody probably expected.

I anticipated a better showing, yet would have never guessed things would go so well so early.

And it’s not even about the fact that the Cougars are winning, but more about how they are winning.

This team is quickly earning the nickname of the Comeback Kids in my book. In four of their five victories, ConVal has lost the first game and gone on to win the match. In two of them, including Monday’s five-game win over Mascenic, the Cougars dropped the first two games and battled back to win three straight.

Against the Vikings, ConVal lost 25-15 and 25-19 to open the match and could have easily given up. Instead they took game three in extra points, 26-24, won a close fourth game, 25-21, and then took control in the fifth for a 15-7 victory.

With five wins already — the number it took to grab the final playoff spot last year — the Cougars look destined for the program’s first postseason berth. Who knows, a few more victories and they could be in line for a home playoff game in the renovated gym.

But no matter what happens the rest of the way, this group should be recognized for what they’ve done. No longer do teams walk into the gym expecting a win when they play ConVal. Now they should expect a battle.

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