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Kofa back in, ready for volleyball playoffs
The Kofa Kings are headed to the playoffs for the second year in a row — but this year they don't want to go home so quickly.
Last season, the Kings were knocked out of contention after being swept by Desert Vista.
Kofa finished their season with a 14-4 record and earned the No. 10 spot in the playoff bracket and will travel to Rincon.
“We wanted to go undefeated throughout the season. We didn't do that, but we did do the next best thing,” Kofa coach Brittany Garcia said. “We were consistent throughout the season, we had our successful days and we had our not so successful days. But I think that overall we did very well this season.”
The X-factor for the Kings is mental toughness. Junior Jackie Fuentes said the team has had difficulty rebounding when they let themselves get down, which is a quality they need to change for the playoffs.
“It's all about not getting down. We're the kind of team that if we get down, it takes us awhile to get back up — but we fight until we do. We're a comeback team.
“We need to not get intimidated by them. I know we can do really well if we don't get intimidated and we can make it past the first round.”
Garcia said she is relying on her captains — seniors Maggie Galvan and Miranda Brookhart — to make sure the Kings can keep a positive attitude on the court.
“In order to make this team succeed, I need them to be on top of their game and encouraging their teammates,” Garcia said. “I need them to keep pushing hard at each and every point. So those are the two girls I'm really going to count on for this game.”
The Kings have been able to dominate their opponents this season and are looking to continue that success in the postseason. Brookhart said she has seen just how good they can be as team and that they can make a good playoff run if they can keep up that level of play.
“We want to make it to two rounds, at least two rounds,” Brookhart said. “Last year we went to state and we only made it to the first round and I feel like we could've made it to the second round. So this year, we are placed higher in state, so hopefully we're able to get past that first round and see an even better team that will be more intense.”
A first-round playoff exit and the loss of several players left questions about how successful the Kings would be this season. Brookhart said that doubt is what helped make Kofa play as well as they have this year.
“We lost a lot of seniors, a lot of players last year. So we were basically a new team, so I think we did really good for who we had and how fast we had to build chemistry so I'm really proud ... In the preseason we knew nobody was expecting anything big from us. So wanting to prove everyone wrong was our motivation and our drive.”
But the Kings didn't become a good team overnight, Galvan said. They faced grueling preseason workouts to shape them into the team you see today.
“We were in here for two and half hours each day (during the preseason),” Galvan said. “We started conditioning about three weeks before school started. So it all comes down to how hard we worked and building chemistry together and focusing on everything that you're supposed to do — during the game and at practice — and taking it seriously.”
Garcia said she thinks the Kings are well prepared for the playoffs, given their schedule this season.
“The teams that we had this season were pretty tough. We got to play a couple Phoenix teams which was very, very good for my team. So that was very different from last year because we didn't get to play anyone from outside the Yuma area and Lake Havasu ... The competition was very high this season. When we played St. Mary's, it gave us an opportunity to see what kind of competition we have in Phoenix for state.”
But no team is perfect. Garcia said here are still things her team needs to work on before their first playoff game.
“We need to be really good defensively. We need to be able to finish plays. We need to do well offensively, too. The mental game is really huge in it, too, we need to be able to play as a team and be there mentally also.”