“It’s been a rough week,” declared Flowers of 3-1 losses to Soddy-Daisy at home Tuesday evening and the same result Thursday night at East Hamilton. “We’re not ourselves. We don’t have any energy about us. We’re not jelling right now.”
“We missed a lot of serves. We’re not passing the ball well and we’re not hitting the floor going after balls,” the exasperated coach added. “Our season doesn’t get any easier, so we need to figure out what going on quickly and correct it.”
After slipping to 8-6 overall and 3-2 in district play with the 25-10, 25-23, 23-25, 25-17 loss, Cleveland will be back in action Tuesday when they make the short trip to Ooltewah to face the 5-AAA leading Lady Owls (19-2, 4-0).
East Hamilton (9-7, 3-3), which has played in the last two TSSAA Class AA state tournaments, opened Thursday’s acton by scoring 15 of the first 19 points, including a 9-0 run behind the serving of Samantha Headrick and four big kills by power-hitter Emma Lenoir.
The Lady Raiders showed a little life after Allison Botts ended the run with a kill and Ashlyn Tillotson keyed a 4-1 spurt with an ace.
The Lady Hurricanes quickly blew the lead back to double digits and finish out the opening set with a 9-2 run.
Game 2 started the same way with the hosts racing out to an 11-5 advantage before Cleveland fought back with a 6-2 run, pulling within two points of the lead on a Kellee Geren kill.
EH edged by up by five at 16-11 and 19-14, but the girls in blue battle back with a 6-0 run to take the lead behind the serving of Marissa Langford, which including back-to-back aces.
The two teams traded points until the scoreboard was knotted at 23-all before the Lady ’Canes were able to down the final two points, including a closing kill by Lenoir.
In a “Ground Hog Day” flashback, the hosts once again led 11-6 to start the third set and were up 22-18 before the Lady Raiders got the serve back and KK Clements responded with three service straight winners to even the score.
After EH got another Lenoir kill to edge up 23-22, Langford showed off her spiking skills with three straight kills to give Cleveland the set.
The fourth and final game saw the Lady ’Canes once again jump out to a 10-4 lead and even though the Lady Raiders fought back to pull within 11-9, the hosts used a 6-1 run to hold them at bay.
Cleveland was able to pull within 18-14 but seven of the night’s final 10 points went up on the home side of the scoreboard.
Langford led the Lady Raiders with 18 service points, including a pair of aces, 17 receptions, 14 kills and 11 digs, while Botts added a dozen receptions, six kills, an ace and a block.
Geren garnered 27 assists, a half dozen digs and a trio of kills, while Clements finished the night with 18 receptions and eight digs.
Kayla Lee had 20 receptions and 23 digs. Lee has been filling in at libero for the injured Eva Wilhelm, who will be back next week after getting released by the doctor yesterday.
“I want to give a shout out to Amber Morman, our freshmen outside hitter who stepped up and had nine kills,” praised coach Flowers. “I also want to give a shout out to senior Aneisha Barber. She has been the one player for us who has truly been a consistent leader on the court. We are working in ways to make her a presence on the court. She had five kills and only one error. She turned a lot of her attempts into points.”