The Marion High School Lady Warriors wrapped up regular-season play on a sour note Oct. 4 with losses to Canton-Galva and Sedgwick at Canton-Galva.
Despite the losses, Marion edged into the sixth and final spot in the Heart of America league championship tour-nament Saturday.
The Canton-Galva match started out well, with the Lady Warriors outdueling the hosts for a 25-19 win.
It proved to be the only game Marion would win all night, as Canton-Galva came back with 25-18 and 25-19 wins to claim the match.
“We came out and played well the first game, and then things just kind of fell apart,” Marion head coach Jim Versch said. “Missed serves, bad sets, bad hits, it’s like we weren’t there.
“Canton-Galva has one really good hitter, and we did not adjust,” Versch said.
Marion faced off against Sedgwick for the third time this season in the second match of the night. Sedgwick won both early season matches.
The Lady Cardinals prevailed again, winning the match in two games with scores of 25-22 and 25-18.
Versch was encouraged by the level of play Marion displayed in their loss to the Lady Cardinals.
“Sedgwick is a very good team — I really wouldn’t be surprised if they won their substate,” Versch said. “They’re big, they block, they hit well, they cover extremely well.
“We came out and competed with them. We could have folded, we could have gone home right after that,” Versch said.
Versch noted the teams battled to a 22-22 tie in the first game before Marion faltered.
“We shanked one, missed a serve, and put it in the net,” Versch lamented. “We’re neck and neck with them the entire match, back and forth, but at the end we can’t finish.”
Marion concluded regular season play with an overall record of 12-17, with a 4-5 league mark. Versch remains optimistic headed into the Heart of America tournament.
“We’ve competed with those other five teams. If we can get over this hump and get a win, I think it could carry over to the whole day,” Versch said.
Getting that first win could prove difficult. Sedgwick is Marion’s first opponent, but Versch welcomes the challenge.
“We’ll see Sedgwick right off the bat, which I’m looking forward to,” Versch said. “We can compete with them. We just need to finish.”
Versch said the extra time between regular season and the league tournament allows Marion to recuperate and more fully prepare.
“I gave them Friday off, to let some injuries heal, let them think about things, and we’re going to work all week on drills where there is competition to finish,” Versch said. “Whatever it’s going to take to learn how to finish.”
While Versch is pleased his team is in the HOA championship tournament, he expressed displeasure with the two-pool format, noting coaches would prefer to have more matches leading up to sub-state competition.
“It should be a round-robin where you get five matches in. At this time of the year you want to play as much as you can before substate,” Versch said. “If you have two losses, you’re going to go home with only two matches.
“We need to go and win one match for sure in our pool and get out of pool play and go on,” Versch said.
Remington, Sedgwick, Bennington, Ell Saline, Trinity Catholic, and Marion will tip off play in the HOA tournament at 9 a.m. Saturday in Sedgwick.