CLOVERDALE -- It's hard enough in any volleyball match just to beat the team standing across the net. But that task becomes near-impossible when you can't stop beating yourself.
That was precisely the problem for the Cloverdale volleyball team in a three-game loss against Owen Valley Tuesday night. The Clovers couldn't get out of their own way in the first two games, falling 14-25 and 16-25, before playing the Patriots tough in a 24-26 effort in the final game.
"We were just flat the first two games," coach Kathy Moore said. "We didn't play well in any area in those first two. We had a lot of mental mistakes, we weren't getting in the face of their hitters, and those are things you can't do against a good team like Own Valley."
In the third game Cloverdale showed some resiliency, working its way to a 24-19 lead as its front-line blockers started stuffing the Owen Valley attack and middle hitter Bradanne Toney grounded several powerful shots. But Owen Valley's Kendall Hamilton -- who had a stellar night setting the ball and coordinating the Patriots' offensive attack -- reeled off seven straight service points to close out the match.
"In the third game, we did some things right," Moore said. "But when you get a lead like that, we've got to learn to take it all the way."
Still, Moore said, it wasn't just her team's own errors that cost them the match.
"Owen Valley was hammering us early, and they have a couple really good hitters," the coach said. "[Owen Valley coach] Rhonda [Schafer] always manages to come up with some very good players. They were focused early, and we weren't."
Leading the way for the Clovers in service points were Bristy Skiles with seven and Holly McCammon and Breegan Anderson, who each had four. Toney had eight kills and five blocks, while Stacia Shepherd led with six set assists. Anderson had six digs for the Clovers and Paige Gruener another five.
The Cloverdale junior varsity squad also lost Tuesday, but in a narrower fashion. It lost 22-25 in a close first game, then battled back for a 25-21 win before falling 13-15 in the decisive third game.
Despite the loss, Moore said her team is excited for the upcoming Putnam County Tournament played at North Putnam High School. The Clovers square off with South Putnam in their opening match at 10 a.m. on Saturday.