CLOVERDALE — Standing arm-in-arm as Covenant Christian coach Rob Zajdel addressed his volleyball team, the offseason had started too early for everyone in the group, players and coach alike. Cascade defeated Covenant in four sets Saturday afternoon at Cloverdale High School.
Zajdel’s first season as coach concluded in the semifinal round of Sectional 44. After Covenant Christian took an 18-17 lead in game four, Cascade scored eight of the next 10 points to win 25-20 and close out the match.
Covenant took a timeout after Cascade junior middle blocker Jacey Lewis earned her 12th and final kill. Zajdel said he told his team to leave everything on the court.
“We had to continue to press, continue to work together, because this was the end of the season,” he said. “We had to make sure we pushed as hard as we could.”
Cascade defeated Covenant, in part, because Zajdel said his team left Lewis outside for some easy shots.
“That’s something we shouldn’t allow, especially at the end of the game,” he said. “We stopped attacking the ball as well as we were throughout the match. We kind of choked on that. It’s disappointing. We’re a talented team. We have a lot of great hitting capability. It seems like we just choked up a little bit at the end.”
Covenant won game two, 25-21. Junior outside hitter Ashley Clevenger called Lewis the Cadets’ best player and that limiting Lewis’s production coincided with the Warriors’ win.
“During the second game, we shut her down,” Clevenger said. “That’s what it took to win. We just couldn’t do that as well as we needed to.”
Zajdel said in early August that his goal was to win the sectional. Though the team fell short, he said harping on the negatives is not beneficial.
“There’s not much more you can say as a coach,” Zajdel said. “Your season’s over. You appreciate the hard work that they put in. You just tell them there’s a lot of positives that we learned. We did a lot of good things this year. Be proud of how you played. … congratulate the seniors on a great year, and we move on with this program.
Clevenger said Zajdel expressed his anticipation for 2014 in the postgame huddle.
“We had some things to work through at the beginning,” she said. “We’re finally starting to get it at the end. I’m interested to see next year if we can start sooner and that way have it throughout.”