Despite Sloppy Finish, Lady Raiders Sweep McMinn

Cleveland Improves To 2-0 In District 5-3A Volleyball

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 - by Larry Fleming

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – Cleveland High School’s volleyball team came close to completely satisfying its coach Tuesday.

The Lady Raiders then got lazy.

Coach Trish Flowers, who has another state tournament contender on her hands this season, let the squad feel her displeasure in the postgame huddle.

“I was within just a few minutes of being in a good mood,” said Flowers, who led the Lady Raiders to their first Class 3A state tourney in 2016.

“The first two sets our girls played great. In Game 3, they got lazy. Our leadership let us down; we weren’t fundamental and made a lot of unforced errors.

“They didn’t finish and that can’t happen. For a team of the caliber as ours, it should not happen.”

But it did.

Still, Cleveland pounced on the Lady Cherokees and pulled off its second straight 3-0 sweep in District 5-3A action. Set scores were 25-9, 25-9, 25-20.

The Lady Raiders aided McMinn County’s first 14 points in the final set until sophomore middle hitter Ashley Baxter scored on a two-hand spike at the net.

The Lady Cherokees scored five straight points prior to Baxter’s shot. A Baxter shot that sailed long stopped McMinn’s scoring spree, but five consecutive miscues by Cleveland – two were back-to-back double hits by senior Emma Flowers – allowed the Lady Cherokees to pull within 24-20.

McMinn sophomore Moriah Erwin’s net-serve provided Cleveland with its 25th point and ended the match.

“Seriously, that’s what usually happens to us,” McMinn County coach Lynn Monroe said. “If you can get serves over and keep the ball in play, you’ve got a chance. Cleveland made mistakes in that third game just like we do. We tell the girls: ‘don’t try to do too much, just get the ball in play.’

“We’re not the most skilled team. We don’t have girls playing club ball. I want them to play their best, do what they can do and we’ll walk away proud.”

For the three-set match, McMinn County got 34 of 38 total points off unforced errors or other miscues by the Lady Raiders.

“We shouldn’t lay down like that,” Cleveland’s Sophia Lakatosh said. “We were beating them pretty easy up to the third game. If we let down like that against good teams it won’t be good. We have to finish it off.”

Coach Flowers added: “We were heading for a 100 percent positive story about the match. “We were shocked the girls were playing so well against McMinn. We almost ended the match with a great huddle, but they finish the match. So, the huddle was not so enjoyable.”

In the first two games, the Lady Raiders played like they wanted to get to an early dinner, going up 2-0 with identical 25-9 wins.

McMinn scored first to open the first set, but Cleveland ran off 17 of the next 18 points to take the upper hand.

Serving was a key reason. Sophia Lakatosh served up four aces among Cleveland’s first seven points. Anna Renshaw, Hannah Longley and Kenli Young also recorded aces in the first game.

Longley also finished with match-high 15 digs.

“I felt good serving,” Lakatosh said. “I needed to practice placing my serves and I was happy I did so well.”

The Lady Raiders were up 21-9 and closed out the opener with four straight points. Renshaw had an ace and a slap shot and Emma Flowers ended it with her fourth kill. Madeline Dasher also had four kills in the first set.

Renshaw had six assists in the opener and finished with 18.

Flowers ended up with 11 kills and 18 assists as the Lady Raiders improved to 5-2 overall and 2-0 in district play.

In Set 2, McMinn again recorded the first point only to see Cleveland scored 11 in a row. The Lady Raiders were up 15-6 and closed out the game scoring 10 of the last 13 points. Lakatosh had two kills; Renshaw a slam and ace; Lily Oliver a kill and game-ending tap; Flowers a two-hand tap and Nicole Glaser an ace.

Oliver wound up with nine kills.

Cleveland finished the match with 16 aces, 39 kills and 27 assists.

Monroe said the parent of a current player is spearheading the establishment of a club team for the Lady Cherokees and that could be a positive step for improving the high school program.

“The parent actually kind of started a club team this year to see how it goes,” Monroe said. “Next year he will have a full-fledged team. He’s got all the paperwork done and for the next couple of years we should start seeing some improvement. We’ve never had club ball and we have no feeder programs.”

STATISTICS

Cleveland

Anna Renshaw – 2 aces, 5 digs, 4 kills, 18 assists

Emma Flowers – 11 kills, 7 assists, 8 digs, 2 aces

Hannah Longley – 15 digs, 1 kill, 2 assists, 2 aces

Josie Collins – 1 dig

Joy Douglass – 2 aces, 1 kill

Kenli Young – 1 ace, 1 dig

Lily Oliver – 1 block, 2 digs, 9 kills

Lydia Martin – 5 digs

Madeline Dasher – 1 dig

Nicole Glaser – 4 digs, 2 aces

Sophia Lakatosh – 5 aces, 5 digs, 2 kills

(Contact Larry Fleming at larryfleming44@gmail.com and on Twitter @larryfleming44)



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