It's the sweet sound of victory for Osan
CAMP ZAMA, Japan — Something just wasn’t right following Osan’s round-robin loss to Robert D. Edgren on Tuesday. Not just the final score, not just the earliness of the hour, not just the way they were outplayed by the Eagles in every aspect.
They missed their warm-up music, Cougars coach Caylen Dakin said. Throughout the Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference Blue Division season, all teams warmed up to music. That was not the case at this week’s Far East Girls Division II Volleyball Tournament.
So the Cougars did something about it, heading to the exchange to buy a portable sound system. That, coupled with healthy doses of defense, outside hitting and strong serving turned things around and helped fuel Osan’s run to a fourth D-II title.
“The music did it for them,” Dakin said after the Cougars swept the Eagles 25-19, 25-23, 26-24 in Thursday’s final. “It feels amazing. I’m so happy. I love these girls.”
With the win, Osan captured its first D-II crown since winning back-to-back titles in 2007 and ’08. The Cougars’ first title came in 2001. Edgren came up just short of the title in its first finals appearance.
With iPods and iPhones hooked up and the music blaring during their warm-up paces, the Cougars did not lose again after falling 15-9, 15-10 to Edgren in that Tuesday round-robin match.
Only once did Osan need to play more than three sets in the double-elimination playoffs, earlier Thursday when the Cougars staved off the Eagles in five sets to book a spot in the final.
Aside from finally being able to again listen to the likes of Kanye, Rhianna, One Direction among others, Osan got solid play from all corners on the court, Dakin said, with defense being the key component.
“Our defense was on,” Dakin said, citing junior right-side hitter Sarah Colthart and senior libero Martha Smith, the latter playing her final match for the Cougars. “Beautiful passing, digging, serve receiving, everything,” Dakin said.
She was particularly pleased with the serving of setter Haeley Deeney, who served nearly 200 times during the tournament “and missed only four,” Dakin said. “A couple of times, she would serve and get us to 14, 15 points; she could not be stopped.”
It had been thought that Osan would try to ride the tide of just its outside hitting to a deep D-II run, but that would leave the Cougars vulnerable to possible double- and triple-blocking by opponents.
But Osan got solid play from its middles, such as Kristen Ramer, which created openings for outsiders Andrea Carandang — named the tournament’s offensive MVP — and Jade Carnine.
“It was a combination” of players and plays, Dakin said. “Everybody pulled their weight.”
Edgren rode solid defense of its own, led by tournament defensive MVP Kalean Middleton, to its first D-II finals appearance and its fourth in any sport under coach Sarah Richardson.
The Eagles have lost a softball title-game appearance in 2010 and two D-I basketball finals appearances, in 2000 and 2002, under Richardson in addition to Thursday’s defeat.