Covington and Rockville have been the top two volleyball teams in the Wabash River Conference so far this season and are hoping for more success in the future.
Coach Jen Sutherlin’s Trojans are 19-0 after beating Attica on Thursday, with Riverton Parke (Monday) and Seeger (next Thursday) between them and a perfect conference mark.
Covington is the only WRC team to beat Rockville, which improved its overall record to 14-9 by winning Thursday at Southmont.
Rockville is back in action today at Turkey Run in the annual Banks of the Wabash Tournament that also features Riverton Parke and North Vermillion — who played each other in a late match Thursday.
“Everybody will show up [to play] for that one,” coach Jennifer Pakiz of Rockville said. “We expect to have to fight [to win the championship].”
Covington got its chances to meet conference foes an extra time a week earlier, when the Trojans won the annual Bi-County Tourney featuring Attica, Fountain Central and Seeger. It was Covington’s third win this season over Fountain Central, another of the up-and-coming programs in the WRC.
Wabash River Conference volleyball in general has been vastly improved in the past couple of seasons, in fact.
“Play has not only improved,” said Sutherlin, “but there are some really good coaches [such as Pakiz and Riverton Parke’s John Memmer] and new coaches who are bringing energy and building programs.”
One of those new coaches is Heather Palmer-Keyes at North Vermillion, who has sparked new interest in the Falcon program and has enjoyed a big turnout of athletes as a result. Kara Burgess is a first-year head coach at Turkey Run, where the Warriors continue to be scrappy.
Another reason is increased participation by many WRC players in club volleyball, either at Indianapolis or in COA at Terre Haute.
Arguably the best player in the WRC right now, Covington junior Brooke Ahrens, is a veteran of Circle City in Indianapolis while three other Trojans, a couple of Fountain Central players and Paige Benskin of North Vermillion are among other club players around the league.
Rockville has managed its season without having any club veterans this year, although Pakiz enjoys a six-player nucleus that rarely leaves the floor — alphabetically Paige Boardman, Megan Gordon, Matty Tinkle, Bailey Vukovits, Meagan White and Jayci Wicker.
Covington’s leaders in addition to Ahrens, Sutherlin noted, include Maddie Bolser, Regan Foster, Courtney Root and Kendra Wallace.
The Class A teams from the WRC will be at the Covington Sectional in a couple of weeks, where even the unbeaten home team isn’t the on-paper favorite.
Lafayette Central Catholic, a sectional newcomer last year after reclassification moved Riverton Parke into Class 2A, is ranked fifth in the coaches’ poll, but both Pakiz and Sutherlin feel the Knights are vulnerable.
“We played [the Knights] earlier in the year [at the LCC Invitational], and I think we can beat them if we play them again,” Pakiz said.
“We haven’t played [the Knights],” said Sutherlin, “but we beat a good McCutcheon team — and they didn’t.”
• Tennis — Seeger’s Patriots not only won the regular-season championship with a 5-0 conference record but also won both the individual singles and doubles championships last weekend.
Turkey Run’s Brock Mitchell entered sectional play this week with one of the best individual records in the conference, at one time 17-2 at No. 2 singles for the Warriors.