Lady Raiders Start Season With Sweep Of Lady Owls

Cleveland Opens Defense Of 5-3A Volleyball Title

Thursday, August 17, 2017 - by Larry Fleming

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – A year ago, Cleveland dominated perennial District 5-3A volleyball contender Ooltewah by winning all three matches between the two rivals.

The last time the two teams clashed was in the district tournament championship game and the Lady Blue Raiders won 3-1 after posting a pair of 3-0 wins during the regular season.

The Lady Raiders and Lady Owls squared off again Thursday evening at the Cleveland Arena and nothing much has changed over the off season.

Getting a combined 31 of the team’s 38 kills from Emma Flowers (nine), Anna Renshaw (eight), Lily Oliver (seven) and Madeline Dasher (seven), the Lady Raiders rolled to a 3-0 victory to open their season. Set scores were 25-19, 25-14, 25-22.

“I’m not going to lie,” said Cleveland’s senior star Emma Flowers, “it feels pretty awesome. I know I couldn’t sleep last night and had butterflies in my stomach all day. We came out with a bang.”

Flowers, the district’s co-most valuable player and Region 3-3A MVP a season ago, added nine digs and 10 assists to her first stat line of the season after a slow start. She had three kills blocked, including her first two attempts, before registering No. 1 for the Lady Raiders’ 10th point in the opening set.

Why was she so nervous?

“It’s a different team,” she said. “We lost a bunch of seniors and everything is different. We beat (Ooltewah) three times last year and knew they would be ready to come back and beat us this year.”

After three straight unforced errors by the Lady Owls (1-2 overall, 1-1 district), Cleveland had an 18-9 advantage in the opening set. Sakari Pack scored on a slap shot to pull Ooltewah to within 23-19, but Lily Oliver registered back-to-back slams to clinch the first game.

“Playing Ooltewah in our first match was tough, but it added some juice to get us going and we were able to start off the season strong,” Oliver said. “We felt pretty good out on the court tonight.”

The first-set win probably did a lot to calm the nerves of coach Trish Flowers, Emma’s mother, as well.

“Our Wednesday practice wasn’t so awesome, so I was a little nervous about how they would come out tonight,” said coach Flowers, who led Cleveland to their first state tournament in 2016 after also claiming the school’s first sectional win.

“Last year’s success was a surprise for all of us. But the topic of conversation seems to be that we have a target on our back this year. That’s going to be a fun challenge for me and the team.”

In Set 2, Emma Flowers added three more kills, all coming within the team’s first six points. Renshaw’s kill gave the Lady Raiders 20-13 lead and an unforced error by the Lady Owls produced Cleveland’s 21st point.

Renshaw’s next serve sailed beyond the baseline and Ooltewah was back within 21-14.

Nicole Glaser delivered three straight service points to close out the set and put the Lady Owls into a 2-0 hole.

“I wanted us to come out angry and take from them what they did to us last year,” said Ooltewah’s Cheyanne Sales, who had eight kills and 1 ½ blocks. “We know Cleveland is good and we’ll have to use today as a learning experience and be better next time.”

Ooltewah coach Elaine Peigen said nerves and a team that hasn’t played together much affected her squad early on.

“We made too many errors in the first two games,” she said. “We need to tweak and change a few things, some on defense and where people need to be in certain rotations. I was pleased in the third game by the way they came back, didn’t drop their heads and kept playing hard.”

After a close start early in the finale, Cleveland built a 20-13 cushion. Flowers took a less aggressive role in the set with only two kills, she was still effective with four assists and three digs.

The Lady Owls closed the gap to 21-20 on Jensen Davis’ second ace.

Cleveland scored back-to-back points, including an ace by Joy Douglass. Pack and Sales combined on a block against strong block at the net, but Renshaw’s tap gave Cleveland a 24-21 lead. Ooltewah’s Macy Milliken countered with a slam.

Oliver’s well-placed tap ended the match.

“This win gives us some confidence and momentum, but we have to keep working hard and can’t take any team for granted,” Emma Flowers said.

STATISTICS

Ooltewah

Macy Milliken – 3 kills, 7 assists, 1 ace, 6 digs

Ally Chernak – 3 kills, 9 assists, 10 digs, 2 blocks

Mabry Carpenter – 2 kills, 1 ace, 16 digs

Cheyanne Sale – 8 kills, 1 ½  blocks

Madilyn Mills – 1 ace, 7 digs

Sakari Pack – 7 kills, 2 digs, ½ block

Tyler Sullivan – 2 kills, 1 dig

Ariel Reid – 5 digs

Audrey Jennings – 3 digs, ½ block

Jensen Davis – 2 aces

Cleveland

Anna Renshaw – 8 kills, 15 assists, 2 aces, ½ block, 9 digs

Emma Flowers – 9 kills, 9 digs, 10 assists

Hannah Longley – 13 digs, 3 assists, 1 ace

Joy Douglass – 3 aces, 2 digs

Kenli Young – 2 aces, 3 digs

Lily Oliver – 7 kills, 2 ½ blocks, 2 digs, 1 assist

Madeline Dasher – 7 kills, 3 aces, 1 dig

Nicole Glaser – 4 blocks, 4 digs, 1 assist

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

 



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