SODDY-DAISY — The Cleveland Lady Raiders set themselves up for yet another meeting with Ooltewah by sending the Rhea County Lady Eagles home for the season after a 3-0 win in the District 5-AAA volleyball tournament at Soddy-Daisy.
Cleveland will go up against the Lady Owls in a semifinals match at 6:30 p.m.
Ooltewah holds a 3-0 advantage over the Lady Raiders in matches that went to five and four games. Cleveland head coach Trish Flowers said the Lady Raiders are ready to turn the tables and move to the finals. Cleveland has never been booted from a district tournament during Flowers’ tenure as Lady Raiders’ volleyball coach.
“We have got to be in charge tomorrow,” said Flowers. “We’ve got to bring the power. We have faced each other so many times this season. We both know what each team is capable of. It is going to be whoever steps out there and makes the fewest errors and gets the most kills.”
After wins of 25-8, 25-12 and 25-13, Flowers said she saw some of the promising play she has been looking for all season.
“I saw some players with power that we knew had power all season that maybe haven’t really shown it as much as we would like them to,” she said. “I saw them step up today and really hit the ball down. They played relaxed and played consistent. We got a lot of points off kills and aces.”
Flowers said she stressed taking care of business with the Lady Raiders and emphasized staying focused on the mission at hand in spite of the obvious difference in experience enjoyed by Cleveland.
“You have to constantly remind them we have this game to take care of first. But, in the back of all of our minds we know we don’t have time to not focus on the game ahead. It was one of those situations where we had to practice for Ooltewah,” she said.
“They stayed focused and did not take this team for granted at all. Rhea County has improved a lot. They were scrappy and put up some good rallies at times. That was good for us. It was good for us to be able to run some plays. We won all the big rallies.”
The Cleveland coach went on to say her team has been working hard to break the string of losses to the Lady Owls.
“We’ve been doing our homework. We’ve got some plans in mind. We are going to come out ready. We are going to have to come out strong offensively tomorrow in order to beat Ooltewah.”
Ayesha Rock closed out the night with 20 assists, seven aces, two kills and 10 digs. Kristen Pickett ended with five assists, 12 kills and 12 digs while Payton Tipton logged seven aces, 11 receptions and 16 digs. Cassie Hale registered two aces while Qaturah Abdullah-Mohammed notched seven kills. Jessica Davenport pounded out four kills and picked up seven reception and nine digs. Kayla Gash took credit for five kills, a block, an ace and five digs while Brooke Miller also finished with five digs.