CLOVERDALE -- Sometimes it all comes down to the team who wants it more.
In the match between South Putnam and Cloverdale Tuesday night, the Eagles proved to be the hungriest.
South Putnam won the match in four sets, 30-28, 19-25, 25-12, 25-18.
"It was a close one," SPHS Coach Lindsay Blackman said. "We knew Cloverdale would come and play; it's a conference game and we are the county champions and this team took the paddle away from them last year. So I was sure revenge was on their minds."
The first set of the night was a nail biter. Both teams exchanged run after run, point after point and kill after a kill, with neither one breaking away from each other.
The Eagles at one point were up 24-21 after going on a 6-0 run and looking to close. But a service error followed by a kill from Holly McCammon and an ace from Daina Pina knotted the score at 24-all. The set came down to whoever could capitalize on a mistake, and it was South Putnam.
Cloverdale tied the set at 28-all and was looking to finish the set, but Bradanne Toney got called for hitting the net, giving the Eagles a 29-28 lead and the serve. Then just when it counted the most, Emily Dabkowski served an ace for the win.
But the Eagles would soon realize, Cloverdale was not going to lay down and die for them.
Cloverdale won the second set 25-19 with solid defense and a string of runs. In the beginning, both teams kept staying within a point or two of each other and the Eagles were able to get a slight, 15-13 lead over the Clovers. But that lead was short lived.
After scoring a point on a service error, Toney stuffed one of Brooke Boetjer's attacks for another point. Then Taylor Jones smacked one into the ground for another point, giving the Clovers a 16-15 lead.
Katelyn Sibbitt broke the Clovers streak with a kill, knotting the set again; but that would be the last time the set was tied.
Cloverdale's defense picked up three quick points, followed by an ace from Jones, for the 20-16 advantage. The Eagles tried to overtake the rampaging Clovers, but it was no use. Cloverdale continued to use its small point runs and won the set 25-19.
"We just didn't come out those first two games," Blackman said. "I told them after the second game that at this point they have to want it. In those first two games, it seemed that Cloverdale wanted it more than they did and it was going to take them wanting the game more than Cloverdale for them to win. Then in the third game, it clicked that we wanted the game more than them."
Something clicked in the Eagle's minds because they came out on fire.
South Putnam opened the set with a 6-1 run, thanks to Ashley Wombles two aces and a kill from Boetjer. Cloverdale tried to rally back with a 4-0 run of its own, but the Eagles wouldn't have it.
Sibbitt and Boetjer nailed back-to-back kills, stopping the Clovers rally. Then after Cloverdale got a side out point, South Putnam lit up the scoreboard with six straight points. Four came from Taylor Goss serving, two of which were aces, with the other two coming from Boetjer and Sibbitt.
The story didn't change in the third set. The Eagles would go on a run, Cloverdale would score a point, Eagles go on a run, Cloverdale score a point until the end when a Cloverdale service error gave South Putnam the victory.
South Putnam carried its momentum over from the third set and beat the Clovers 25-18 in the fourth with an onslaught of kills and aces. 12 of the Eagles points came from kills with Boetjer leading the way five.
"We did come out determined in the first two games," CHS coach Alisha Polite said. "These girls don't give up. The only thing that I could ask more of these girls is to finish.
"We talked about playing through the whistle and we were. We were digging up balls inches off the ground and playing through the whistle. They were encouraging each other the whole match, it's just a matter of us finishing," Polite added.
For Blackman, there was one player who stood out -- Sibbitt.
"She has been the most consistent player in the back and front rows for us," Blackman said about her senior. "She pulls outs digs when we needed them and get kills when we needed them also. She does a great job of getting angles when she is hitting on the weak side.
"She really has been the rock that we have leaned on this season," Blackman added.
South Putnam is back in action today when they host Tri-West at 6 p.m., while Cloverdale is back in action on Tuesday when they host Eminence at 6 p.m.
South Putnam 30 19 25 25
Cloverdale 28 25 12 18
Next Match -- South Putnam is back in action today when they host Tri-West at 6 p.m., while Cloverdale is back in action on Tuesday when they host Eminence at 6 p.m.