Two things disappeared after the third set of Wednesday’s intra-county volleyball match between host Oak Ridge and Ponderosa — the Trojans’ need to regroup and discuss matters and the Bruins’ momentum going forward.
Down two games to one, Oak Ridge reversed course to rally for the 25-22, 18-25, 15-25, 25-13, 15-6 Delta River League victory.
Troy actually left the gym but returned with passion and drew inspiration from the Blue Crew that awaited their arrival. As Oak Ridge found its game, Ponderosa collapsed and never recovered.
“I told the team to ‘breath’ and ‘calm down’ but they’re really a unit I don’t have to say much too,” Trojan coach Becky Potter said. “We have such good senior leadership and are self-motivated. In the fourth game you saw our determination and fight. And talk about school spirit. That was a true sign of loyalty (by the Blue Crew) that meant the world to us.”
The fifth and deciding game was disastrous for the Bruins — what could go wrong did in the form of serves, service receives, passing, communication, hitting … you name it … it went south. The Bruins didn’t show at the end of their first five-set match of the season and Oak Ridge capitalized.
“We were right there but you never want to fo to a fifth game on someone else’s court against a good team,” Ponderosa coach Sheri Millhollin said. “I’m confident we’ll learn from this. At this point of the season most teams are plateauing but we’re continuously improving.”
Though the Bruins dropped the first set they did come on toward the end with Kylie Christensen on serve. Ponderosa’s core performers: Alex Rader, Lindsey Bowels, Christensen, Morgan O’Neill, Sarah Walker and Morgan Jones upped their game over the next two sets and the Bruins received a huge boost from Lauren Williams, Nicole Banke and Maddie Clayton to sit firmly in the driver’s seat.
“That’s the most confident I’ve ever felt on the court with a lead but knowing coach Potter I know what her team’s are capable of,” said Bowles who had her 18th birthday spoiled by the loss. “Perhaps we got too confident. That fifth game was brutal. They played real smart while nothing went our way.”
Oak Ridge pulled away from an 8-8 tie in the fourth set behind the play of Mysha Davies, Emily DeMure, Amelia Crye, Hayley Corell, Marisa McConnell, setter Tara McDermott and libero Maddie Chambliss. A huge block by Ponderosa’s Christine McDavid only slowed the Trojans from taking Wednesday’s match the distance.
Crye and Rader traded points to open the fifth set before Rader’s serve went long, Corell picked up a block and the Bruins mishandled Cry’s serve. Bowels pounded a kill home but after Corell’s deflected kill, missed on one and Ponderosa’s attempt to return a free ball found the net.
From there, Davies spiked a winner and the Bruins next bump set up the Oak Ridge block for a thunderous return kill. After Maddie DeGeorge’s serve befuddled Ponderosa to make it 10-3, the Shingle Springs’ team never recovered. McDermott served up the final point when a Bruin pass went in front of the net.
“After the third game we talked and realized what we had to do to focus and change the outcome,” Davies said. “Once we took the lead we kept going.”