In fact after the host Bearettes score 19 of the match’s first 26 points, the two teams were exactly even the rest of the night at Jim Smiddy Arena.
“Cleveland is a very tough, scrappy team,” commented Bradley head coach Christie McElhaney after her squad claimed the hard fought 25-17, 27-25, 25-23 victory. “After we got on that roll early in the first game, we didn’t keep up the pressure and they (Cleveland) just kept digging and didn’t give up.”
Now 15-3 overall and a perfect 5-0 in district play, the Bearettes will get a chance to take a breather this weekend before returning to the Jim Smiddy Arena court Tuesday for a midseason showdown against defending district champ Soddy-Daisy (16-9, 3-1).
“We’ve played a lot of games in the last few weeks, so hopefully the rest will help us,” coach McElhaney assessed. “We looked a little tired tonight.“
The Lady Raiders (9-12, 1-3) will also take the weekend off before playing host to their other county rival Walker Valley (9-14, 2-3) Tuesday. The Lady Mustangs came out on the short end of a 3-1 match at Rhea County Thursday.
After the two teams traded the first four points Thursday, senior Kayla Arp fired a trio of aces in a 6-0 Bradley run to break the game open.
Cleveland bounced back with three straight points, including a block by Aneisha Barber and a kill by Cassie Hale, but the Bearettes stretched their advantage with 11 of the next 13 points for 19-7 lead.
Not willing to surrender, the Lady Raiders went on a 9-2 run to trim their deficit to five, but Bearette junior Brooke Copeland blasted three kills in a 4-1 spurt, including the game’s final point after a very long volley.
Game 2 saw four lead changes early on before the score stood 6-all. The teams then traded short runs with Bradley scoring six straight points, once again behind the serving of Arp, while Cleveland answered with five unanswered points of its own.
A 7-2 run put the Bearettes up 18-13, but once again the Lady Raiders fought back with a 5-1 run of their own to pull within a point. The hosts edge up by a pair a couple of times in the following few moments, but a 6-2 streak gave the visitors game-point at 25-24.
After a very close out call pulling the score even, Bradley got an ace by sophomore Chanler Grady and then won a very long volley to notch the victory.
In a reversal of the first two games, the night’s finale saw the Lady Raiders hold the advantage most of the battle, going up 5-2 before the Bearettes came back to tie the score at 7-all. A 5-1 run put Cleveland back in control and a few minutes later the visitors were up 20-14.
Six straight points behind the serving of Grady evened the score at 20-all before the teams traded the next half dozen points. Looking like another overtime game, senior Kayla Arp finished off the sweep with a dink and an ace to seal the deal.
Arp, the Bearette setter, finished with 24 assists, 10 service points, including four aces, plus three digs, while Grady had 11 service points, a pair of aces and four digs.
Copeland powered 22 kills in the victory, to go along with 16 digs, a dozen receptions and 1.5 blocks. Rebecca Reuter, Bradley’s other 6-foot-2 junior, had a strong all around effort with eight kills, five blocks, 13 digs, seven receptions and four assists.
Sophomore Lisa Duvall added seven digs, seven receptions, four kills and five service points for the victors, while senior Brianna Howard had four digs and four service points. Sophomore libero Rachael Garrett had 23 receptions.
The Cleveland effort was topped by the team’s lone senior, Jessica Murray, who had 15 digs, eight assists and an ace.
Junior Eva Wilhelm dug out 16 shots and had 20 receptions, while classmate Cassie Hale downed seven kills and Marissa Langford slammed home a half dozen.
“On the positive side, our back row defense is playing well, but offensively we were weak and inconsistent,” proclaimed Lady Raider coach Patricia Flowers. “We showed a little improvement in our blocking, but we still don’t believe in ourselves. I have no doubt we could have gone five games with them, but we are still trying to get them to trust and lean on each other.”
Over in Evensville Thursday, Walker Valley came up just short in a 22-25, 25-19, 22-25, 19-25 tally against Rhea County.
Taylor Pruett paced the Lady Mustangs with 42 digs and 24 receptions, while Bristol Snider helped out with 18 kills, 16 digs and 14 assists.
Abby Campbell collected 18 assists and 11 digs in the match, with Eryn Walker posting a dozen digs, five receptions and a pair of aces. Alex Rominger added eight receptions and four digs, while Baylee Boen had seven kills, five digs and four receptions.
Autumn Sizemore finished with a half dozen kills, four digs, a trio of blocks and a pair of aces.
Walker Valley won the freshman (25-8, 25-21) and junior varsity (25-8, 25-17) matches.
Ashlyn Flock had 10 digs, a half dozen kills, five assists and aces for the freshmen, while Madison Pruett helped out with nine digs, four aces, three kills and three receptions.
Rominger topped the JV totals with 20 digs, five receptions and two kills, while Flock tallied a dozen assists, six kills and a pair of digs. Alexan Crittenden dished out 11 assists and three aces.