Cheney’s volleyball team wrapped up a fourth-place finish in the Great Northern League by winning two of its final three matches last week.
The Lady Hawks played well and showed potential for advancing in the coming postseason with 3-1 wins over West Valley last Tuesday in the home finale – Senior Night – and at Clarkston Thursday. The lone loss came in the final match of the season Saturday at Pullman, a 3-0 setback that head coach Brianne Lowe said was disappointing given Cheney’s earlier five-set loss to the third-seeded Greyhounds.
Six serve reception errors and some inaccurate passing kept the Lady Hawks out of good offensive sets and swing opportunities while ball-handling errors such as being under or in the net led to at least 10 points for Pullman in the 25-18, 25-22, 25-15 loss Saturday. Lowe said whenever the Lady Hawks began to mount a run, errors of some kind seemed to shoot Cheney in the foot.
“Just doing a little something that would let them (Pullman) take (the match) back over,” she said.
Cheney had a .118 hitting percentage with just 21 total kills. Liz Gill led the club with nine while Ashley Seiler had six. Kendall Case had 11 assists and Kinsey Pease seven, while Seiler led in aces and digs with four and 10 and Sami Sheffels and Gill contributing a pair of blocks each.
If the Pullman match is an example of what Cheney doesn’t want to see in the coming postseason, Tuesday and Thursday’s wins over West Valley and Clarkston are worth emulation.
The Lady Hawks played off the emotion and crowd of Senior Night to take a quick 2-0 lead over the Eagles, winning 25-17 and 25-16. In game three West Valley showed they still had some fight, capitalizing on some early Cheney mistakes and holding off a rally for a 26-24 win. Lowe said they discussed this in the inter-game huddle – a discussion that led to an inspired game 25-15 game-four win for the match.
The Lady Hawks had their best hitting percentage against the Eagles at .410. Seiler led with 10 kills, Pease and Lauren Puyear seven each, Sheffels six and Gill five as Cheney demonstrated a nice offensive balance. Case had 22 assists and the senior accounted for six of the team’s 14 total aces while Desiree Crabb added 17 digs and Pease a pair of blocks.
Cheney kept up its balanced offensive and defensive approach two nights later in Clarkston. The Lady Hawks cruised to an easy 25-13 game one win, but upon switching sides for game two, found themselves next to the Bantams’ rambunctious students and fans. The intimidation blunted Cheney’s focus in the 25-21 loss.
“We talked about that and refocused and the girls took the match,” Lowe said.
Where Cheney may have relaxed a bit in game two and let the crowd get to them, Lowe said in games three and four they were all business, battling and getting a couple late runs in both for identical 25-18 wins.
Seiler led Cheney with 12 kills while Gill added 10, Pease and Puyear six each and Sheffels five. Case and Pease each had 16 assists; Seiler had six of Cheney’s 12 aces while Gill had 10 digs and Pease five blocks. Cheney hit .310 for the match.
The Lady Hawks (6-6) enter the post season with the No. 4 seed, earning a loser-out match with sixth-seeded West Valley (3-9, 3-11) Wednesday night in Colville. The winner advanced to the double-elimination round, first taking on the second-ranked, league champion Indians (12-0, 14-0), also Wednesday.
“I feel good. We beat all the teams below us twice, and the teams above us were all preseason ranked, tough teams,” Lowe said, adding their main focus right now is West Valley.
“It will come down to a battle of wills, which team executes and handles the ball well,” she said.
John McCallum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.