They celebrated Senior Night at Ooltewah’s match Thursday night against the Cleveland Lady Blue Raiders, but there wasn’t much to celebrate after Lady Owl seniors Daisja Knox and Kaylee Jarnagan were recognized for their hard work and contributions to the Ooltewah program in recent seasons.
Meanwhile, the Blue Raiders used Thursday’s match as a warm-up for next week’s District 5-AAA tournament, which begins on Monday at McMinn County.
Cleveland improved to 29-11 overall and a perfect 8-0 in district play after rolling to a three-set sweep, winning by scores of 25-20, 25-10 and 25-11.
“I thought we came out with a lot of energy and that translates to playing well most of the time,” said Cleveland coach Amy McGowan shortly after the district match ended.
“I thought we served well tonight. When we do that, we seem to pass well and we can be hard to beat when all of that is working. This is Cleveland-Bradley week, so we’ll take Friday off, but we’ll come back to get ready for the district tournament.
“It’s playoff time and we all know we have to play our best. There are no guarantees in post-season tournaments, but I’m just happy we finished the regular season with an important win and that we start tournament play on a positive note,” she added.
Knox and Jarnagan are the only two seniors for coach Elaine Peigen’s Owls. It’s been a tough season for the girls in red, but Monday’s tournament starts a new season and Peigen is just hoping all the hard work to this point will pay off.
“It’s been our goal all season to just keep improving and we just hope that we play better on Monday,” Peigen said afterward.
“Cleveland has a great team and they played well tonight. I thought we played well in spurts, but one of our biggest problems has been a lack of communication.
“It all starts over on Monday and we’ll see what happens. Everyone’s even again and upsets happen in post-season, so we just need to be ready when our first match begins,” the veteran coach added.
With Addy Hurst recording a pair of aces, Cleveland bolted to a 4-0 lead in the first set and never trailed. An 11-5 Blue Raider lead led to Ooltewah’s first timeout. Two hitting errors by Cleveland allowed Ooltewah to get within 14-12 following an ace by Amya Sutton, but just as quickly a block by Cleveland’s Lily Oliver was up 20-12 before winning the set by five points.
Cleveland scored the first four points again in the second set before Ooltewah tied it at 6-6. A kill from Joy Douglass extended Cleveland’s lead to 12-7, but it was 11 straight service points from Elliott Brock that wrapped up the match with a kill from Hurst awarding the match to the Lady Blue Raiders.
Douglass paced Cleveland with 10 kills and eight digs while Daniel was credited with 15 assists. Brock finished with 10 digs while Eslinger had four aces.
Knox set the pace for Ooltewah with four kills and seven digs while Sutton had nine digs and a pair of aces. Addison Duplantis had 15 digs and three assists for the Lady Owls.
Lily Oliver – 7 kills, 3 blocks
Brianna Daniel – 3 aces, 15 assists
Claire Brusky – 2 kills
Joy Douglass – 10 kills, 8 digs
Emma Bayne – 4 kills
Elliott Brock – 10 digs
Katie McGinnis – 12 assists
Addy Hurst – 6 kills, 2 aces, 6 digs
Brooke Eslinger – 4 aces.
Allie Manning – 5 digs
Daisja Knox – 4 kills, 2 aces, 1 assist, 7 digs, 1 block
Amya Sutton – 1 kill, 2 aces, 9 digs, 1 block
Caty Hughes – 2 kills, 2 blocks
Hannah Irwin – 4 digs
Addison Duplantis – 3 assists, 15 digs.
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)