This dynamic duo have met three consecutive times now in the first round of the Class 2A Cascade Sectional, with Cloverdale holding a 2-1 edge after defeating the Eagles Thursday.
Cloverdale outlasted the Eagles in five sets, winning 25-18, 18-25, 25-15, 27-25 and 15-11 to advance to Saturday's semi-final round against Monrovia.
This is the first time this season the Clovers have been on top of a five-set match. The match saw some up and down play from both squads and Cloverdale head coach Kathy Moore wasn't too pleased with that fact following the contest.
"We are like being on a rollercoaster and I don't understand it. I don't understand why we cannot stay consistent and focused. That second game, we were just shooting ourselves in the foot too many times tonight. Just lack of movement or anticipating where the game was going to be," she said.
The Clovers had control of the match from the opening serve. Paige Gruener served up an ace and Cloverdale raced out to a 13-5 advantage behind some powerful kills from Bradanne Toney and Mariah Oetken and nice passes from the Clovers' backline.
But as it would all night, South Putnam fought its way back into set, chipping away at the lead until they were within seven points at 24-17. But a long serve by the Eagles gave Cloverdale the first set 25-18.
In the second set, the two teams traded blows, but a miscue by Cloverdale gave South Putnam a 7-6 lead and an ace from Ericka Minor gave South Putnam a 9-7 lead. The Clovers called timeout to regroup, but when the teams took the floor, South Putnam was still firing on all cylinders.
Following the timeout, South Putnam scored four consecutive points and built a 14-7 advantage. As the Eagles had in the first set, Cloverdale tired to claw its way back into the game, but South Putnam was riding a wave of momentum and rode it to a 25-18 win to even the match at 1-all.
All the momentum South Putnam had seized in the second set couldn't be found in the third set as the Eagles allowed Cloverdale to build a lead and ultimately take the set 25-15 and the lead in the match 2-1.
The fourth set was the best action fans got to see all night. Both teams were on top of their game, trading points on acrobatic shots, digging monster kills by the opposing team and showing that each wouldn't give up without a fight.
The team literally traded points throughout the set, with the largest lead amounting to only three points. Alex McHugh tied the game at 19-all, but Oetken responded with two blocks on the same rally, tying the game at 20-all. The score would be tied four more times in the set, with South Putnam taking the match when Brooke Boetjer rocketed a Cloverdale dig back across the net to give the Eagles the 27-25 win.
Entering the fifth and final set, the teams once again traded point after point, but in the end Cloverdale was able to hold on for a 15-11 win to advance.
With Monrovia waiting in the wings, Moore knows how tough her opponent will be. The Clovers dropped a five-set match to the Bulldogs earlier this season and she noted the team will need to step up their play for Saturday's sectional semi-final.
"I'm happy to get this one," she said. "Now against Monrovia on Saturday morning, it will be another ballgame. Monrovia's a good team. The (Mikah) Sizemore girl is good. She hits the ball very well and we have to dig the ball better than we did tonight than we did."
Cloverdale will face Monrovia at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Cascade Class 2A sectional.
Class 2A Sectional
South Putnam 18 25 15 27 11
Cloverdale 25 18 25 25 11