CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Somewhat uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.
When George Washington won the Class AAA volleyball state championship last year, it rekindled memories of some of the great Patriots teams of the past - teams that won back-to-back crowns in 1981-82 and again in 2005-06.
If GW is going to put together another repeat, it's going to have to "get mentally tougher,'' according to coach Missy Smith.
The Patriots fell to Parkersburg 27-25, 25-11 in the opening round of matches at the Civic Center Volleyball Showcase Thursday evening, the final day of competition in the ninth annual event.
It marked the third time this season GW has lost to the Big Reds (10-3-1).
"They've all been similar,'' Smith said. "We'll be close and then one or two plays, and it's over. Then in the second game, we don't play as well. [Parkersburg's] a tough team . . . they're one of the best teams in the state.''
Smith knows her team now wears a target following its run to the 2012 state title, but also fully realizes something else.
"We graduated nine of the 12 that were on that state championship team,'' she said, "so some of the girls wearing the target didn't have anything to do with it. We're working hard and getting better, and that's all I can ask them to do.
"We need to get mentally tougher. We're as good physically as anybody and we'll be right in a game, then blow a couple plays and the game's over, and we give up big runs. So we have to get mentally tougher.''