Cheney downs West Valley in loser-out round; Lady Hawks earn first playoff win since 2009
When the Cheney volleyball team looks back on 2012, first-year head coach Brianne Lowe hopes they focus on the good things, and not the what-ifs.
Both of those took place last week for the Lady Hawks at the District 7 playoffs, playing good volleyball in all three games despite coming up short of a trip to this week’s 2A regional. Cheney knocked off fifth-seeded West Valley 3-1 Wednesday to advance to the double-elimination round for the second time in the last four years, earning them a shot at regular-season Great Northern League champion Colville later in the evening, giving the second-ranked Indians a good challenge before falling 3-0. Needing a win to continue, the Lady Hawks came up one rotation short on Saturday against Pullman, losing in five games to the third-seeded Greyhounds.
“The girls fought hard,” Lowe said Monday. “At no point in the post season did I think they gave up.”
The Lady Hawks controlled the first two games Wednesday, easily downing West Valley 25-15 and holding off a rally in game two, 27-25. But in game three West Valley came out with determination, winning 25-20 and giving Cheney some pause as to their success, something Lowe addressed in the inter-game huddle.
“I just reminded the girls that this is it,” she said.
Cheney responded, getting a big scoring run in the middle of game four for the 25-17 win and match clincher. Ashley Seiler and Liz Gill had a match-high 14 kills each, with Kendall Case a match-high 41 assists, Lauren Puyear and Morgan Davis each three aces, Puyear 13 digs, Case and Gill with 12 and 11, and Sami Sheffels three blocks. Cheney had 45 kills and 15 errors for a .258 match hitting percentage.
The Lady Hawks didn’t have time to reflect on their success, as they immediately faced Colville on their home floor, losing 25-16, 25-15 and 25-23. Lowe said the scores for games one and two didn’t reflect how hard Cheney played against the Indians, and that the game three outcome was the closest challenge Colville had all season.
“I told the girls, you’ve made it to Saturday, just go out and be the most aggressive you’ve ever been,” Lowe said. “The girls fought really hard and they were proud. I think that’s the closest anyone has come to taking a set off them (Colville).
Seiler had 13 kills and Gill 10, with Case getting 27 assists, Sheffels two aces, Case a match-high nine digs along with seven for Gill and a block each for Gill and Madison Risley. Cheney hit .278 with 31 kills against nine errors.
Saturday’s match with Pullman was a seesaw affair, with the Lady Hawks winning games two and four by identical 25-21 scores and the eighth-ranked Greyhounds one and three, 25-20 and 25-19. But the fifth and deciding game was a disappointment for Lowe and company who opened a 7-3 lead but were unable to force a side out to end a Greyhound serving rotation that saw them rally for a 10-7 lead and eventually the 15-10 win.
“We just couldn’t stop that run of points,” Lowe said.
Seiler had a match high 23 kills, with Puyear and Gill adding 11 and nine each. Case had 39 assists to go with 20 digs while Seiler had four aces, a match high, and three blocks, with Risley adding four blocks. Cheney hit .229 with 52 kills and 18 errors.
Cheney finishes at 7-8 overall, 7-7 in league for fourth. It was the final matches for eight seniors: Gill, Case, Puyear, Sheffels, Taylor Moore, Brianna Hills and Kendra Swenson. Lowe said she saw growth in the team in her first season in Cheney, not only in advancing further in the playoffs than the past two years but in their skills as well. It’s what she hopes the seniors will reflect on as they depart and the underclassmen will remember during the offseason.
“I hope the girls focus on all the wins we had this year,” she said. “Just reflect on the great things and remember those.”
John McCallum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.