CLOVERDALE — Speedway’s Melanie McHenry spiked Cascade’s bid for a Sectional 44 volleyball championship. The Sparkplugs sophomore sparked Speedway past Cascade in straight sets 25-15, 25-12 and 25-15 at Saturday night’s sectional final at Cloverdale High School.
Cascade coach Ashley James was not overly impressed with Speedway’s play but cited the Sparkplugs’ experience, as something the Cadets could not overcome.
“I know they’re a good team, but I don’t see anything spectacular,” she said. “My girls, they dug up some good balls. It’s just about getting to the right spot. They shut down some of our top players. That’s where we struggled.”
In the first set, a kill by Cascade’s Audra Smallwood drew the Cadets to within a point, at 16-15. Speedway finished with a 9-0 run to end the set.
McHenry orchestrated the run, scoring the final four points with kills. She finished with 11 for the game, and 24 for the match.
Both of Cascade’s timeouts, including one prior to match point, did not revive the Cadets. Junior middle blocker Jacey Lewis said Cascade’s short-term memory was a problem.
“That was our downfall tonight, not letting things go,” Lewis said. “Nobody played as well as we could because we have moments where we could win state ‘cause we play so well. Any team’s like that.”
During the final two sets, Cascade scored consecutive points only six times.
“You have to be in it in your head,” Lewis said. “You cannot get down on yourself mentally or you’ve taken yourself out of the game.”
Lewis lamented the loss for the seniors’ sake.
“Honestly, right now, I just wanted it so much for the seniors,” she said. “I wanted to make this a good year for them. It was about my team and how I wanted to win this for them.
“We are a good team. I don’t think we did as well as we could’ve tonight.”
In the semifinal, Cascade defeated Covenant Christian in four sets to reach the final. Lewis paced Cascade with 16 kills. Senior defensive specialist Mallorie Smith led the Cadets with 20 digs.
“It was a good game,” James said. “It could’ve gone either way. (We) had some girls step up.”
Though Cascade lost, James expressed happiness, and gratitude for her four seniors’ quality leadership.
“We had a good season,” she said. “We won our conference. We won some invitationals at the beginning. Winning record. I feel like the girls can walk out of here with their heads held high. They’ve come a long way this season.”