SULLIVAN TWP. — For 19 days, the Cloverleaf volleyball team had been itching to play in something that mattered. The Colts, pardon the pun, held serve in practice and did their best in scrimmages leading up to their season opener against Black River.
But practice was exactly that, so Cloverleaf wasn’t about to hit the brakes when it was time to finally lift the lid on 2014. It added up to a 25-8, 25-19, 19-25, 25-12 win Wednesday.
“Oh, I was dying,” Colts middle hitter Samantha Flora said. “All day in school, I was sitting in my seat like, ‘Guys, we have a game tonight! Guys, we have a game tonight!’
“Today was fun. Collectively as a team, we really wanted this win. We just really wanted to hand it to them and start the season off right.”
Cloverleaf took it to the Pirates right off the whistle, scoring the first seven points off the serve of Cheyenne Rose (6 aces, 31 assists, 4 kills).
A crucial point in Game 2 really set the tone. Down 11-6, Rose was on point again at the line, turning a five-point deficit into a one-point lead. Considering Black River won Game 3, Rose’s points turned out to be the most important of the contest.
“That was crucial,” Pirates coach Courtney Dieter said. “We had the momentum at one point and let it slip away. It might have been a different story had we won Game 2.”
Serving seemed to be the story for Cloverleaf, as Rose and Paige Barnum (5 aces) complemented Flora (22 kills) and Maryssa Starman (19 digs). Barnum almost closed things herself in Game 4 by rattling off 10 straight points.
“We knew serving would be our forte, and we did that,” Cloverleaf coach Veronica Briggs said. “We forced bad passes. Their middle hitter (Danielle Jenkins) didn’t get a swing until the middle of the second set. We’re going to be a little more offensive from the service line instead of at the net.”
The Pirates could have been suffering a bit from a five-set loss to Lucas on Tuesday. Playing the second match of three straight, there was very little in the tank at the beginning and even less at the end.
Jenkins (10 kills, 3 blocks) and Louise DeMarco (9 kills, 14 digs) were there offensively, while Erica Benson (15 assists, 21 digs) and Jamie Hozan (26 digs) had solid performances.
There simply wasn’t much Black River could do when Cloverleaf cranked up the offense.
“You see that all the time where you’re coming off a big win or a tough loss,” Dieter said. “We had no practice in between and came out flat. We need to serve consistently. In doing that, we’ll set a better tone offensively. We’re constantly on defense right now.”
As for the Colts, they’re not taking too much out of the win, but they wanted to use it as a statement.
“We came out and played our hardest,” Rose said. “It shows people we’re not here to mess around. We’re here to play this year.”
Cloverleaf won the junior varsity match 25-16, 25-14. Brooke Swain (7 kills), Taylor Barnum (16 assists) and Emily Burson (13 digs) led the way for the Colts. Grace Spencer (3 digs, 2 kills) and Kayla Gardner (3 kills, 4 digs, 3 assists) paced Black River.
Contact Brad Bournival at firstname.lastname@example.org.