ATHENS — Cleveland volleyball coach Trish Flowers has been pleased with the play of the Lady Raiders for the most part this season, with the exception of the tendency of her girls have to take a game or two off here and there.
The trend held true again Tuesday night in an eventual Cleveland sweep of McMinn County. The Lady Raiders fired out to a 28-8 win in the first game followed by a lackluster 25-15 win in the second. Cleveland picked it up again in the final game of the night closing out with a 25-11 win.
“I think we played solid for the most part. I think we gave up a few points in game two that caused us to not be able to keep them under 10 points,” Flowers said.
Lauren Lee started the Lady Raiders off with a pair of aces, Emma Flowers and Allison Botts added kills and Lee fired up a third ace to put Cleveland out front 7-0 in the opener. Kellee Geren added a kill and an ace that made it 10-1. Geren and Flowers had back-to-back kills that put Cleveland up front by a score of 17-4 after two more Flowers aces. With the score 22-7, Botts led off with a kill followed by a Flowers kill and Geren ace to close out the win.
Cleveland raced out to a 6-2 lead in the second game and held a 10-2 advantage after two more aces from Flowers, before the Lady Cherokees came creeping back to make it 13-9. McMinn reeled off four straight points to tie the game at 13-13, prompting Flowers to call time out to remind the Lady Raiders of the importance of playing every game to the finish, since the district championship has comes down to a tie the last few years.
“They just flipped the switch off and coasted. Most people tend to play to the level of their competition. We have these moments of complacency and then we make not just two or three errors in a row, but up to five, and that can hurt us,” she said.
“That's how tight it is, everybody splits with the exception of Ooltewah, who has a tendency to be the first-place team,” said Flowers. “I told them if this comes down to a tie, this game could hurt us if it comes to points.”
From there, the Lady Raiders flipped the switch back on and took care of business, taking a 15-13 lead before closing out the game with consecutive points to win after leading 17-15.
The finale saw the Lady Tribe take their first lead of the night at 2-1. Geren responded with a kill and ace followed by eight more aces in a 15-point run that included kills by Morgan Moffett, Botts and Flowers. The Lady Raiders cruised to a 19-4 lead before ending the night with a Geren kill and an Addie Strode ace.
“We're trying to find ways to challenge them. Our lineup continues to change and get stronger. But we are young. As good as they are playing and I think all season we have played pretty well, we're still missing that ‘X’ factor, that grit, said the Cleveland coach.
“I actually think our junior varsity has it. We watch our JV and it is really enjoyable to watch them. They all talk. They've gone to three games with Ooltewah and Soddy-Daisy. They are competing with the best teams and it is mainly because of communication. They are all really loud out there.”
The Lady Raiders continue a big week of volleyball with Baylor at home today followed by a district match against Bradley Central, also at home Thursday.
LADY MUSTANGS 3,
EAST HAMILTON 0
Walker Valley was able to sweep away a win from East Hamilton on the volleyball court in front of the home crowd Tuesday night.
In the varsity game, the Lady Mustangs topped the Lady Hurricanes 25-18, 25-17 and 25-16.
Ashlyn Flock had eight kills, 16 assists, 19 digs and an ace, and Katelin Scoggins had 20 digs, 22 serve receptions and an ace.
Alexan Crittenden posted four kills, nine assists and 15 digs, with Sara Wilson getting three kills, 12 digs, eight serve receptions and two aces.
Madison Pruett had seven kills, five digs, 11 serve receptions and an ace, while Mikayla Lumpkin had four kills, two blocks, seven digs and an ace.
Nikki Prugh chipped in with two kills, a dig and two serve receptions of her own, Madison Russo had a kill, one dig and one serve reception and Carly Frost had two digs and one reception.
Walker Valley’s JV team also swept its competition, winning 25-12 and 25-11.
The Lady Mustangs travel to Ooltewah on Thursday, with the freshmen game beginning at 4:15, JV at 5:15 and varsity at 6:15 p.m.