NEW CARLISLE — Given the natural ebbs and flows of a volleyball match, some coaches like to use timeouts to stem the tide of momentum.
New Prairie coach Jordan Staus isn't a big fan of the concept, preferring to let her players navigate their way without her having to stop play.
"I'm very anti-timeout," Staus said after Thursday's four-game win over Elkhart Central. "I hope to never call them. Sometimes, I think during matches coaches want to get in huddles and say all this stuff. Sometimes you just need it to stop the run, they need a break. They're smart enough to figure it out. They can put two and two together, sense when they're not playing at their highest level. I need to give them that responsibility. What if we're in a game and have no timeouts left? It's like, oh my God, what do we do?"
Staus actually burned a couple t.o.'s in the 25-18, 18-25, 25-20, 25-13 Northern Indiana Conference win, the Cougars' off-and-on play at times possibly attributed at least in part to homecoming week.
"This week is one of my least favorite weeks," she said. "They're kids, they relax, they want to have fun. It was just a lack of focus. They felt really comfortable. I really push respecting your opponent, looking at the name on the front of the jersey. They were scrappy. They had a great game, a solid defense. It's something I'll have to stress the rest of the season."
Playing through the peaks and valleys without the coach calling timeout is a learning process that began for NP players last year, when the Cougars advanced to semistate. While Elise Swistek may wonder on occasion why Staus doesn't take a pause, she gets it.
"It's just like life. You have to get through problems. You can't rely on everyone all the time," she said. "There are times where you think maybe she should call a timeout just to calm us down, give us a breather, but I understand why she doesn't. There's nothing new to tell us. We know what we need to do. We're pretty used to it. She's told us we have to get through our mistakes and fix them ourselves. When she calls a timeout, it's just the same thing over and over again. She's like, you know what I'm going to tell you, so just do it."
The first three games were snug with New Prairie's third-game win seemingly giving it the emotional boost as it rolled to a 10-1 game four advantage on the way to the clincher.
"I thought each game had a different mentality," Staus said. "I thought the third game, we were just getting by. The fourth game, I don't know what I said, but it was just like a light bulb went on. Energy equates to success. You can never talk enough in volleyball. I always tell them to be uncomfortable. It, oh, we've got a big lead, and they relax and get sloppy. Just go out there and do your job. Volleyball is such an up and down sport. You can be ahead by 10 and all of a sudden, a team goes on a run, they have a good server, and you're losing. Whether you're winning by 20 or winning by two, it's the same mentality, the same level of play."
Swistek connected on 16 kills while Katie Hancock and Ellie Michieals combined on 10 kills and eight blocks.
"We didn't expect how they played. They were really scrappy. They really wanted it. They got every ball up," Swistek said. "We kind of went through the motions at first. Once our energy got up the fourth game, that's how we got the lead. It's easier to not have to serve receive. We just kept the ball. When we have the ball to serve, we know that's the time to get a run."
New Prairie 25-18-25-25, Elkhart Central 18-25-20-13
Elise Swistek made 16 kills for the Cougars.