Anna Gover makes a play during action against Ripley.
Lizzie Wison goes for a kill during action against Ripley.
Mya Smith lines up a shot during action against Ripley.

Tuesday night was supposed to be a big celebration for the Covington Lady Charger volleyball team.

Covington was facing Ripley for the Region 8-AA title. They had beaten Ripley three times already, including in last week’s district title match, dropping just one set in those three matches combined.

Ripley had other ideas.

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The Lady Tigers beat Covington 25-15, 25-18 and 28-26 and got to have their own celebration on Covington’s home court.

“It was a bad night,” said senior Lizzie Wilson.

“We just had some really bad games,” said senior Leah Beasley.

Antanisha Mason, another senior, said she was “shocked.”

“We weren’t over confident,” said senior Brynn Browder. “It was just the little things. We just couldn’t get it together.”

The good news, however, is that Covington still has a chance to make some history.

Covington travels to Crockett County High School for a sectional match Thursday at 6 p.m. A win would give Covington a state tournament berth for the first time since 2001.

Browder, who was six months old in the fall of 2001, is the only member of this year’s team who was alive the last time the Lady Chargers played in a state tournament. Molly Glass, the team’s fourth-year head coach, was eight years old that year.

The players are definitely aware of what will be at stake Thursday night.

Beasley and Browder also play softball and have seen their last three seasons in that sport end one win short for a state tournament berth.

“We’re tired of losing that last game,” Beasley said.

“Eventually a team starts to figure out everything about you,” said Browder, referring to Tuesday’s loss against Ripley. “I think it will be good that we’ve never played Crockett. If we work together I think we can do it … If you want to look at the positive side of things, we’ll have something to prove more than ever now. Maybe we needed that, I don’t know.”

“We might be uptight at the beginning, but once it gets going we’ll be all right,” Mason said about Thursday’s upcoming match.

“If we’ve got the right mindset,” Wilson said, “we’ll be fine.”

Tuesday’s match against Ripley was pretty intense. In front of the largest crowd of the season, Ripley surged past Covington midway through the first set and rode that momentum to a victory. Glass took out all of the starters in the third set, which ended up being the closest set of the match.

“I hope that they realize you have to learn how to adjust to your mistakes,” Glass said. “A lot of the stuff that happened last night were uncommon errors we don’t normally make. I think they struggled with regrouping from that.”

The first two seasons of Glass’ coaching stint at Covington ended in the district tournament. Last season the team won the district before losing to Ripley in the region title game. Jackson South Side ended Covington’s season in a sectional match.

“I think it would be huge for us to get to go to state,” Glass said. “None of these kids were alive the last time and I don’t remember anybody going.  I think it would be a big deal for this program and this school … Getting to tomorrow is a big deal, but obviously we want more. I just want it for them, so they can have that memory.”