After posting wins of 25-17 and 25-20, the Lady Mustangs were poised for the sweep, that is until the Lady Raiders flipped a switch and roared back to win the night with three straight victories over the Lady Mustangs.
The Lady Raiders walked away with wins of 25-14, 25-15 and 15-7 to earn their first District 5-AAA win of the season.
“We didn’t play a very good first match. We played a good first game but just the first game I think,” said a disappointed Lady Mustangs coach Judy Pruett. “I don’t know if it was just a long night of not knowing if they were going to play or not going to play, I just don’t know,” she said of National Weather Service severe storm warnings in the region.
Lady Raiders coach Trish Flowers said Cleveland suddenly came alive and played like they have been in practice the last few weeks.
“I’m really proud of the girls. I’m not sure what was keeping them from playing like we’ve been playing in practice for three weeks against Ooltewah. I’m proud of the team as a whole,” she said.
The teams played a close match early in game one with Walker Valley, breaking an 8-8 tie to run up an 11-8 advantage building a 16-10 lead. The Lady Mustangs led by 10 at 21-11 before closing out the 25-17 win.
Game two saw Walker Valley race to an early 8-2 advantage before building an 18-10 cushion. Cleveland made a late run with four consecutive points, but the Lady Mustangs slammed the door to take the 25-20 win.
Walker Valley jumped out front again in game three and led 8-4 before the Lady Raiders crept back within two points at 10-8. A kill by Amber Morgan made it an 11-11 game. Lauren Lee followed with an ace and served up one more ace in a 6-0 run that put Cleveland out front 16-11. The Lady Raiders held a 20-13 lead before notching the victory by a 25-14 score.
Game four saw another close game early as the teams battled to a 6-6 tie before Cleveland jumped out front with a 7-0 run, highlighted by three Allison Botts kills and an Emma Flowers ace. The Lady Raiders built an 18-8 lead and moved out front 20-10 before Walker Valley’s Madison Pruett helped the Lady Mustangs close the gap to 21-15 with two kills in a five-point run. It would be as close as Walker Valley could get, however, as Flowers and Botts Locked up the win with a pair of kills.
In the closer, it was all Lady Raiders. Two kills by Morman and a pair of Lauren Lee aces set Cleveland up nicely with an 8-0 lead. Pruett had a kill and Alexan Crittenden served up an ace for the Lady Mustangs as Walker Valley tried to close the gap. But two Flowers kills helped the Lady Raiders hold off the Lady Mustangs and take the 15-7 win.“Cleveland played a great game. We didn’t play together as a team at all. We’ve not looked like that all preseason,” said Pruett. “We’ve got a tournament this weekend so we’ve definitely got to pick it back up. We’ve got some really tough competition to play all weekend long.”
Flowers said the Lady Raiders did what was necessary, stayed calm and found the confidence missing against Ooltewah.
“We made the necessary adjustments. Walker Valley is a good team. Somewhere in the game we got the confidence we needed to play like we did. Once we started we were playing great,” said the coach. “At first it was like we weren’t gelling for some reason. It was a mental thing and we were making some unforced errors. Then we stopped and started playing. I hope that sets the tone for the rest of our games.”
Ashlyn Flock had 32 digs for the Lady Mustangs, Katelin Scoggins ended with 25, Sara Wilson 18, Alexan Crittenden 16, Madison Pruett 11 and Nikki Prugh 10. Prugh also had three aces on the night and Flock, Crittenden and Mikayla Lumpkin had an ace apiece.
Kayla Lee picked up 44 digs for the Lady Raiders. Emma Flowers finished with 26, Lauren Lee ended with 25 and Kellee Geren booked 13. Lauren Lee also had five aces on the night, Geren served up three while Allison Botts, Flowers and Kayla Lee each had two aces each.