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Storm can't sink Sailors

"Rusty" Creek Valley falls 3-0 after more than a week off the court

 


Creek Valley didn’t need a break.

After 10 days off from competition, the Storm returned to the court Tuesday night, only to be swept away by visiting Sutherland, 3-0. Their previous outing had been on Sept. 14 at the Garden County tournament.

“We were rusty,” Shania Brown admitted.

Creek Valley allowed the Sailors to run up a 5-0 lead in the first set before Brown faked a set then issued a deft sideways tap to earn the Storm’s first point. In the second, the home side again fell behind early, conceding a 6-1 advantage.

Yet on both occasions the promising Storm gathered themselves and struck back. With Stefanie Mitchell serving, they closed to 7-6 in the first, thanks in part to the net presence of Madison Blackwelder and Hannah Schievelbein.

The pair combined for 20 blocks on the night. Mitchell added 15 more.

The visitors edged back out to a three-point lead. But Brown struck again, driving along the net in pursuit of a Sutherland return and again slapping a shot off the side of her hand, into open space.

“They were on the net,” she said of the clever lob. “It’s one of my favorite moves.”

Creek Valley climbed on top a moment later when Brown set up Summer Mueller. Once again it was Mitchell on the service line, piecing together a brief run. Mueller advanced it by Mueller, who hit the floor to dig out a Sailors’ return, redirecting the ball into an unguarded spot.

But Sutherland’s Jocey Nelson broke the spell. The Sailors nudged out to another narrow lead and held it as the game closed in on match point.

Ahead at the critical 24-22 moment, however, Sutherland’s Allison Stewart served into the net. The Storm took advantage, Blackwelder setting the table for Mueller, who smashed it home with decisive force. That was it, however. The Sailors captured the final two points to claim the first set 26-24.

“We just didn’t pull it together,” Mueller observed.

The second set followed the same script. Down 6-1, Creek Valley scrambled back into the fray. Schievelbein challenged the front line, but Sutherland parried. The ball careened to Blackwelder, who snapped it back for a point. Jill Behrends then directed an untouched shot and Mueller followed with two service points, putting Creek Valley in front 9-8.

Behrends' 10 kills on the evening led the team.

Yet leads were difficult to cling to in this contest. The set was knotted repeatedly at 18, 19, 20, 22 and 24. Once again, however, the Sailors took the final two points, capturing the second by the same 26-24 score.

“There were points where we should have taken it,” Brown explained. Little things just went against them.

Sutherland attempted to pull away early in the third and, ultimately, final frame—despite another service run by Mitchell. Down 11-9, however, Behrends touched a neat shot along the line. Moments later she evened the score with an acrobatic smash.

“We need a momentum change and that spot was open,” Behrends said of her well targeted effort.

But the Sailors again headed for the open sea, pulling ahead 18-13. The Storm were unwilling to subside, however. Mueller took a feed from Brown and turned it into a missile burrowing into the floor on the far side.

“I had a perfect set,” Mueller said. “I wanted it. I guess I crushed it.”

It was a last gasp, however. Sutherland cruised from there, 25-18.

Jerry Straber, in the libero role, held the back line solid with 15 digs on the night. Blackwelder and Brown combined for 21 set assists up front.

The Storm are in action again on Thursday, as they welcome Garden County to the Thunder Dome for a conference match up.

 

S’land 26 26 25

CV 24 24 18

 

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