By SEAN ROWLEY
TDP Staff Writer
Sporting an impressive record and a No. 8 ranking in 5A, the Tahlequah Lady Tigers volleyball team begins its playoff run today as hosts of the Region 8 Tournament.
The Lady Tigers (31-7) face McAlester (5-16) at 4:30 p.m. to open the Tuesday tournament at the TMAC, followed by Skiatook (14-15) against Coweta (28-11) at 6 p.m. Winners play in the late game for a berth in the 5A state championship tourney, which begins Oct. 18 at Charles Page High School in Sand Springs.
“We traveled to McAlester in September,” said Tahlequah coach Don Ogden.
“We beat them in three straight sets. They have a new coach and some young players, but it was still good to get a road win against them.”
Despite the previous success against McAlester, Ogden said his team is not looking past the Lady Buffs toward a possible rematch with Coweta. Tahlequah closed its regular season on Oct. 1 against CHS with tough straight-set victories of 33-31, 25-23 and 25-23.
The victory gave THS a 2-1 edge in the season series against Coweta, and allowed Tahlequah to leap ahead of CHS into the No. 8 ranking and host a regional.
“We want to take care of our business before thinking of anything else,” Ogden said. “We also want to watch Skiatook and Coweta. They have had some good battles this year.”
Discussing the traits that have made the 2013 Lady Tigers so successful, Ogden pointed to their mental toughness.
“This is a very strong-willed team,” he said. “We had a good talk at the first of the year about what we need to do to get an advantage. First, we decided we needed to win every game we were supposed to win. That would put us in position to compete to host a regional. We did not want to travel to a regional at a private school.”
Private schools hold the top five spots in the 5A rankings and host six of the regionals. Other regional hosts are Heritage Hall, Christian Heritage, Deer Creek, Oklahoma Bible Academy, Lincoln Christian, Cascia Hall and Victory Christian.
Cohesion was also cited by Ogden as a key element of the Lady Tigers’ stellar season.
“They are a lot of fun to coach,” he said.
“They have good chemistry and they enjoy each others’ company. They know their own roles and the roles of every other member of the team. Every year, you’re going to have ups and downs, but their have been a lot more ups this year.”
Ogden asked THS fans to attend the tournament and root for the Lady Tigers.
“We want to invite everybody to come out,” he said. “We need as much fan support as we can get if we are going to get the wins we need to go to the state tournament.”