GIBSON CITY - GCMS volleyball has certainly dealt with the full gamut of outcomes and emotions this season.
After a weekend tournament helped reshape the team's chemistry, the girls overcame their 1-7 start with a 5-2 stretch. Things were looking up, and then the team hit another tough stretch.
Following their fifth win in a dominant victory over Fisher, the Lady Falcons lost to El Paso, Lexington, LeRoy, Eureka/Roanoke-Benson, Fieldcrest and Tri-Valley.
Despite the great during that stretch of five wins in seven games, coach Tom Stone knew there was still work to be done.
“The thing I kept telling them after our little winning stretch was that it was going to take more to win more games,” Stone said. “Our wins were good, legitimate wins, but the teams we faced the next weeks were going to be tougher. I encouraged the consistency and the control but tried to really push them to kick up the competitiveness to get the bigger wins.”
When the ensuing losses occurred, Stone said the girls hit a tough slump emotionally, and the team took some time to reflect on things.
“We had a pretty intense conversation about digging deep and playing through the drama and emotions and doing whatever the team needed to succeed,” Stone said.
That reflection helped the crew regroup, and GCMS pulled off a 25-12/25-21 win at Ridgeview to end the regular season schedule.
“The Ridgeview game was a pretty good win. The first set we really got into a flow and did a nice job scoring consistently and keeping control,” Stone said. “The second set we went out and relaxed too much. I think they were just expecting to win.”
While GCMS has given up leads in the past, the Falcons closed out the close second set for the win.
“We had to fight a little more, but they did a nice job of staying pretty steady once we pulled ourselves back together,” Stone said.
The timing of the win was perfect, as the squad’s next few games were set to occur at the conference tournament before their regional opener.
“Our conference tournament and regionals are both going to be tough,” Stone said. “The biggest key for the girls is to dig deep and trust the foundation skills that we have. When we can stay calm, focused and in control, we do fine, but as soon as an inkling of doubt gets in our heads, we start to slide. They are going to have to focus on one point at a time, forget the last point and look forward to the next.”
GCMS opens the Champaign St. Thomas More regional at 6 p.m. Monday against 10th seeded Urbana University.