It was easy for the Marion Warriors on Saturday — until it wasn’t.
After cruising through the opening matches of the Cougar Classic invitational at Centre High School, Marion found itself losing its first set of the day when it needed it most: in the championship match.
After a day of dominance, the Warriors were suddenly on the brink of elimination.
First-year head coach Brea Campbell had a message for her team.
“You have to put it down,” she told her team. “You have to be the one to attack, not the other team. You can’t play defense all the time.”
A more aggressive Warriors unit came out and put the Herington Railers on their heels and kept them there until their fate was sealed. A 17-25, 25-22, 25-17 win was the high point in a day when Marion was able to impose its will on opponents in four prior games.
Marion started the day in pool play, dispatching Rural Vista 25-12, 25-16 and Centre 25-6, 25-14.
In elimination play, it beat Berean 25-18, 25-12.
It wasn’t until the opening set against Herington that Marion allowed an opponent to reach 20, let alone win a set.
“We kinda mosied along playing, then we got to these teams that were really giving us a challenge and we had to learn how to step it up, but they did a good job,” Campbell said. “This last game, you can’t ask for better. That’s how you want your championship to be.”
The second set against Herington was tightly contested after the Warriors pulled ahead 15-10. The Railers battled back to make it 23-22, but the Warriors struck back with two points to seal it.
In the final set, the Warriors used two 7-0 bursts to separate early from the Railers, and cruised from ahead 19-7 to finish out the tournament.
For their efforts, senior Kirsten Hansen and sophomore Kourtney Hansen received all-tournament honors.
Campbell said the experience was crucial for the Warriors.
“We figured out exactly what we need to work on, what we need to change, what we need to do — the conditioning we need to do — to keep us going throughout the whole day,” she said. “I absolutely love it, this was great.”
Marion won two games Tuesday, beating Bennington 25-23, 25-22, then Hutchinson Trinity 25-17. 25-20.
Without any home games left, Marion celebrated its homecoming night.