Cleveland Sweeps Bradley In 3-AAA Volleyball

Lady Blue Raiders Will Host Oakland In Sectional On Thursday At 7

Tuesday, October 12, 2021 - by John Hunt

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Any coach in any sport will tell you just how hard it is to beat the same team three times in the same season.

It’s even harder to beat that same team four times, but that’s what the Cleveland Lady Blue Raider volleyball team did Tuesday night.

Hosting the Region 3-AAA tournament at their own spacious Raider Arena, the Lady Blue Raiders won a pair of matches and advanced to the sectional round where they will host the Region 4 runner-up on Thursday.

But on a night where Bradley and Cleveland both breezed past their semifinal opponents, Cleveland made it four in a row with a 3-0 sweep of the Bearettes.

There were nine sets of volleyball played on Tuesday and none were close.

Bradley swept past Coffee County by scores of 25-12, 25-17 and 25-19 while Cleveland whipped Lincoln County by scores of 25-8, 25-9 and 25-17.

Then in the championship match, Cleveland beat Bradley by scores of 25-10, 25-12 and 25-14.

Cleveland will now host Oakland in a sectional match on Thursday at 7 while Bradley will travel to Murfreesboro to battle Siegel, the team that ended Cleveland's season a year ago.

“We have some phenomenal female athletes at Cleveland and some of them play volleyball.  Bradley has a good team, but our girls just feel like we’re better and we seem to have an edge mentally,” said Cleveland coach Amy McGowan after her team improved to 36-11 for the season.

“We know that we can’t afford to let down as we have to focus on every point, but we just want to put ourselves in the right position and we did that by winning both matches tonight.  Overall, I’m really pleased with how we played as we’re healthy and focused on playing good volleyball.

“I just hope we can bring it again on Thursday, but I thought we were scrappy and energetic tonight and the results showed,” she added.

The Bearettes are now 29-6 for the season with four of those losses to the Blue Raiders.  Coach Christy McElhaney didn’t have any quick answers for the way her team played after playing so well in its earlier match.

“We just broke down against Cleveland, but it’s just a mental block with them,” the veteran Bradley coach began.

“I’m really pleased with the way we played in the first match as we were ready to go when we walked in the gym.  We always talk about minimizing our unforced errors, but we had a ton against Cleveland.  The team score can get away in a hurry when that happens.

“I think we put all of our effort into that first match as we had to win to advance, but now we just have to erase this one from our memory and concentrate on Thursday’s match.  It’s been a long time since we went to the state tournament, but we still have a shot,” McElhaney added.

A kill by Lacey Inman gave Bradley an early lead, but five straight service points from Addison Brock put Cleveland ahead 6-1.

Five straight service points from Mary Smith extended Cleveland’s lead to 13-3 and the Bearettes were never able to get much closer. 

A block from Cleveland’s Jordan Whitcraft and a Bradley error put the Blue Raiders up 2-0 in the second set.  A kill by Bradley’s Ashlan Crittenden slowed the momentum for a second, but six straight points from Brock put Cleveland in the driver’s seat at 9-1.

Again, Cleveland continued playing almost error-free volleyball and the difference just kept growing until a kill from Lily O’Bryan clinched the second set and put the Lady Raiders within shouting distance of a region title.

Four straight points by sophomore Kinslee McGowan, including a pair of aces, put Cleveland ahead 4-0 in the final set.  A kill by Brooke Eslinger and five straight service points by the Cleveland junior extended the lead to 17-5 and it was just a matter of time before the celebration could begin for the girls in blue.

Three straight kills by Lauren Hurst then wrapped up the title for Cleveland, its second region title in the past three years.

Eslinger was voted the tournament MVP and was joined on the all-tournament team by teammates Hurst, her older sister Addison, McGowan, Smith and Whitcraft.  Bradley’s honorees included Callie Elrod, Kyndall McElhaney, Trinity Reagan and Crittenden.

BRADLEY STATS VS. COFFEE CO.:

Elise Brew – 18 assists, 2 kills, 1 ace

Ashlen Crittenden – 2 aces, 10 kills, 7 digs, 10 assists

Callie Elrod – 1 ace, 5 kills, 4 digs, 1 block

Ava Koger – 4 kills, 3 digs

Abigail Leonard – 7 aces, 19 digs, 1 kill

Kyndall McElhaney – 3 kills, 6 digs

Karson Morrison – 1 kill

Trinity Reagan – 1 block, 4 kills.

BRADLEY STATS VS CLEVELAND:

Elise Brew – 1 kill, 10 assists, 4 digs

Olivia Barker – 6 digs

Brooklynn Cantrell – 3 digs

Ashlan Crittenden – 6 kills, 5 assists, 10 digs

Callie Elrod – 5 kills, 3 digs

Laney Inman – 5 kills, 3 dig

Ava Koger – 1 kill

Abigail Leonard – 8 digs

Kyndall McElhaney – 1 kill, 11 digs

Trinity Reagan – 1 kill

Ashlan Stuman – 4 assists, 2 digs.

CLEVELAND STATS FOR BOTH MATCHES:

Kinslee McGowan -- 3 aces, 4 kills, 49 assists, 11 digs

Lauren Hurst -- 4 aces, 29 kills, 1 block, 1 assist, 3 digs

Addison Hurst -- 2 aces, 12 kills, 1 assist, 17 digs

Brooke Eslinger -- 1 ace, 1 kill, 3 assists, 24 digs

Gracelyn Jackson -- 3 digs

Emma Smith -- 1 kill

Lily O'Bryan -- 5 kills, 7 assists, 11 digs

Addison Brock -- 3 aces, 1 assist, 3 digs

Amanda Estrada -- 2 digs

Mary Smith -- 3 aces, 12 kills, 1 assist, 6 digs

Kaitlyn South -- 1 kill, 4 digs

Paige Wenger -- 1 ace, 7 assists

Jordan Whitcraft -- 12 kills, 1 block, 1 assist, 1 dig

Allison Turner -- 1 dig.

(Email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@gmail.com)


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