The Clovers were able to hold off a feisty South Putnam squad to advance to play Cascade Saturday morning at 11 a.m.
In spite of the loss, South Putnam head coach Lindsey Blackman left the gym at Covenant Christian pleased with her team's performance.
"We did fight really hard. I'm leaving here very proud of the girls and what we've accomplished this year just in the struggles we've had. To end on a positive note, even though it's a loss, means a lot to them -- a lot of us as a coaching staff," she said.
The first two games were tight, but clearly the Clovers had the edge. In the first game, Cloverdale jumped out to an 8-0 lead before putting the Eagles away 25-21.
The second game was even tighter, but again it was the Clovers strolling to their bench after winning 26-24, holding to a 2-0 game lead and one step closing to extending their season. But, South Putnam wanted their season to keep chugging along and in a game of wills, South Putnam's was strong enough to win the next two games and tie the contest at two games apiece.
The third set was all Eagles, as they soared to a 16-6 advantage early on. Cloverdale wasn't helping its cause as it committed some timely errors, which allowed the Eagles to build confidence and enhance their play.
Cloverdale tied the game at 20-all and battled the Eagles back-and-forth, but the Eagles clearly wanted the contest. A big smash from Brooke Boetjer caught the back line to give South Putnam its first win of the night, 26-24.
CHS head coach Kathy Moore said her team would have to clean up its play when it faces off against powerhouse Cascade Saturday.
"Those types of lapses, we just can't have against somebody like Cascade. But, they're beatable. They had their lapses tonight too at times against Tri-West. I thought it was a really good match," Moore said.
The fourth game proved to be another knockdown fight with South Putnam building a lead and then holding off a charging Cloverdale squad to secure the win 25-27 and move the match into its fifth and final set.
In the final stanza, Cloverdale's Bradanne Toney controlled the net, earning four kills late in the contest to extend Cloverdale's lead and ultimately deliver it the match. The Clovers won the match 15-7.
Moore said the win might not have been pretty, but it was a win nonetheless.
"I always believe that if you want something bad enough, you'll find a way," she said. "We talk about it every day, finding a way, whether it's ugly or pretty, if you can find a way to beat somebody it's still a 'W' in the book. And that's what it was tonight -- pretty and ugly and it was our 'W' with a little luck."
Although they were packing their bags to go home for the season, Blackman was more than happy with what she saw Tuesday and optimistic with what the future holds for her program.
"Losing to them really quickly at county and then regular we got one game on them, but we thought we had a strategy going into it," she said. "Even though we lost the first two games, I still felt our attitude -- we were still very positive out there and still felt we had that fire and always had that opportunity to keep ourselves in the game.
"So those next two we came out and really just the spirit of the girls, they really wanted it. To be young, with only one senior, to have that fire in sectional, it means good things for us in the future."
When asked what she was hoping to see when her team comes on the floor the first time next season, she said it would be the sense of togetherness it has found over the course of the current season.
"Better continuity. This was that first time all of them were together after losing three seniors last year and having two move-ins coming in and moving positions and people around. I'm really looking for a solid year of playing together, a summer playing together and just that togetherness I think we lacked in the beginning that we didn't really get until this stretch. We're looking forward to having to start off the season on that page," she said.
Up next for the Clovers will be a powerful Cascade team. Moore said she used the story of David and Goliath following the match to demonstrate that even if you're smaller, it doesn't necessarily mean you have to be meek. She said her team will battle with Cascade and knows it's going to be a long four days until the two meet up.
"I'm happy, I'm proud of the kids. We've come a long way this year from last year and I feel like we're making some gains. We'll see what happens Saturday morning. I've got a lot of work ahead of me," Moore said.
The Clovers received some big performances from Toney, Breegan Andersen and Bristy Skiles. Toney recorded 21 kills, while Skiles had 20 points and Andersen chipped in more than 20 digs.
At Covenant Christian
Covenant Christians Class 2A Volleyball Sectional
South Putnam 21 24 26 25 7
Cloverdale 25 26 24 17 15