OOLTEWAH — With the District 5-AAA volleyball regular season nearing an end, Cleveland missed out on an opportunity to tighten the logjam at the top of the heap with a 3-0 loss to Ooltewah.
“It was a big match as far as the district is concerned. There are still a lot of things we won’t know until Thursday, but this is a disappointing loss because I know the girls are capable of beating Ooltewah,” said Cleveland coach Patricia Flowers.
The Lady Raiders (18-18, 6-5 District 5-AAA) served well and had plenty of chances to turn the night around, according to Flowers. But the Lady Owls (25-12, 8-3) countered Cleveland move for move to win by scores of 25-14, 27-25 and 25-21.
Cleveland will host McMinn County this afternoon at 4:30 p.m. in the final district game of the season.
“We had spurts where I thought maybe the night would change directions then it would just go back,” said Flowers. “We served effectively again tonight. Serving was our comeback. We didn’t get a lot of aces, we just shook up their offense. Eva Wilhelm, K.K. Clements, Kayla Lee and Kellee Geren were back there for a while and brought us back into the game and then we would lose it just as easy.”
Marissa Langford went up for 12 kills to lead the Lady Raiders.
“That was a bad night for her,” Flowers said of her big hitter. “She usually gets way more.”
Cassie Hale and Qeturah Abdullah-Muhammad each had five kills for Cleveland. Wilhelm picked up 29 receptions and 24 digs and Clements ended with 10 receptions and 8 digs. Lee had six receptions and eight digs while Geren helped out with 21 assists and 14 digs.
“There is no formula. We have won some big games the past two weeks, some really big games. When you know they are capable of winning it’s hard to not let down. But, in the back of your mind you are thinking let’s beat them when it matters most if we get that opportunity,” Flowers said. “The district tournament is what matters most.”
Flowers said the Lady Raiders must get past continuing communication issues and fight back with effort and intensity.
“That tends to be the thorn in our side. We just have these moments where we are deer in the headlights. It’s like we (coaches) could not get them to communicate,” she said. “It takes no talent whatsoever to give effort and communicate on the court. It’s a choice.”