When Wallowa coach Terri Wilson looks to the newly released schedule at the beginning of the season, there is always one week she is most concerned about: homecoming.
Wilson said jokingly: "I think we should ban it. There's so much going on and the players have a tendency to lose focus."
If Saturday was any indication to Wilson's logic of thinking, she might be onto something. In a battle of division (1A Old Oregon) leaders - the Cougars came out flat and relatively uninspired as they dropped three straight sets to Cove 25-18, 25-11, 25-19.
"We were tired out there...I think a lot of our girls had a late night before today's game and it showed," Wilson said.
After being down 18-12 in the first set, Wallowa would show some intensity and pull within 18-16 and put the Leopards on there heals. But a long rally would go in favor of Cove after Wallowa's spike at the net would be blocked and give the Leopards a 19-16 lead and the momentum to take the first set.
The second set couldn't have gone any better for Cove than it did. The Leopards jumped out 8-1 and never looked back. The lack of communication and motivation doomed the Cougars as Cove ran away with the set.
"They're a good team," Caitlyn Mckenzie said. "They kept up there intensity through the entire game and we didn't."
The problems that plagued the Cougars through the first two sets continued into the third.
"We had too many balls drop because we weren't talking out there," Wilson said, "Cove kept the offensive up and we absolutely had no communication."
Leading the Leopard onslaught was senior Christina McGilvray. Whether it was blocking at the net or scoring with a kill - McGilvray was all over the court.
"She [McGilvray] did a great job and really hurt us...she could read, attack, and find the holes well," Mckenzie said.
The Leopards were up 20-10 in the third set before the Cougars showed some signs of life. Wallowa ran off five straight points and looked poised for a comeback.
They were communicating and had a few kills - but McGilvray of Cove would end the rally with a kill to go ahead 21-15. McGilvrays play just took the air right out of the Cougars and would never recover. Cove (9-1, 4-0) not only completed the sweep, but made a bold statement to competitors as they remain the team to beat in the division.
"It was a tough loss. We have a lot of work ahead of us this week. We need to start communicating more, make better reads, and move our feet better before Friday."
Wallowa (9-3, 4-1) will have some time off before there next game versus division foe at Powder Valley Friday.