NEW CARLISLE — New Prairie volleyball could face a fairly odd circumstance this afternoon.
If it beats Kankakee Valley in the Class 3A Hanover Central Regional semifinals at noon, it will have to wait until 7 p.m. to play again in the finals. Since the Cougars will be in Cedar Lake, an hour and a half from home, they don't have the luxury of going home to relax in between matches.
Coach Jordan Staus' team was faced with the same situation last year during the regional, so this isn't a completely foreign concept to her anymore.
"Last year I took them to Panera, then to the mall," Staus said. "We go eat lunch first and just take our time and relax. Then I take them somewhere to walk around and just bond and hang out with each other. I'm not sure if I have to preach anything after experiencing it last year. The girls know what I expect."
Staus trusts her senior leaders to keep the rest of the girls in check during this down time. She likes to think they're more mature than most kids their age. It's important they relax, take their minds off volleyball for a little bit, and hang out with one another. With how close this team is, that should be no problem at all. They all love spending time with each other.
The one thing Staus doesn't want her players to do during this long break, though, is sleep. She understands the benefits of naps, but sometimes it takes a little bit to fully recharge and refocus after a long one. Staus isn't going to risk that happening anytime, especially right before a regional final. Luckily for her, a solid majority of her players have been through gaps between games like this plenty of times.
"A lot of girls are used to the wait time from playing club volleyball," Staus said. "So I think it's becoming less of a factor on most teams."
A combination of mature leadership and a solid amount of experience waiting for a while in between games gives Staus plenty of confidence heading into today if New Prairie is to win its first match. She doesn't like to look too far ahead though.
Just one game at a time.
Class 3A Hanover Central Regional
West Lafayette (24-8) vs. Griffith (6-15), 10 a.m.
New Prairie (27-7) vs. Kankakee Valley (25-9), to follow
Semifinal winners, 7 p.m.