HS Volleyball: Lady Cavs Rebound in Instant Classic Against the Lady War Eagles

By: Jake Wilson
| Published 10/17/2023


THE WOODLANDS, TX -- The Oak Ridge Lady War Eagles (29-12) battled the visiting College Park Lady Cavaliers (22-8) as both teams pushed for positioning in the district.

The match carried importance beyond the typical winner/loser dynamic. With a win, the Lady Cavaliers would continue to push for second place, which the team recently lost due to a loss against the rival Woodlands Lady Highlanders.

A win for Oak Ridge would solidify their hold on fourth place in the district and further distance themselves from the Willis Ladykats, who have steadily inched closer to playoff contention.

In an exclusive interview with The Woodlands Online Sports, College Park Head Coach Candice Collins Gibson spoke on the importance of winning a match that had more on the line than what was at hand.

“I think after Friday, we were a little disappointed,” said Collins. “It was really good for the girls to have to fight.”

Both teams took to the floor in the opening set and played with an intensity that mirrored the importance of winning.

Several prolonged volleys favored the Lady War Eagles in the team’s early scoring run. Oak Ridge’s ability to force miscommunication from the Lady Cav back row allowed them to sustain multiple runs of three points apiece. The runs snowballed into a seven-point lead midway through the set before a College Park timeout attempted to derail the momentum.

Unfortunately for College Park, the Lady War Eagles’ lead kept them out of reach. As hard as the Lady Cavs tried to fight for points, Oak Ridge stayed ahead of their adjustments. Strong outside hitting countered the middle-blocking presence of College Park, and a stellar opening set from Micah Rusher allowed Oak Ridge to pull away with a 25-18 win.

College Park did go down swinging to end the first set, and that fight carried over into the second. The Lady Cavs opened with a five-point run that built them a quick lead. The run was built on the front-row play of Lacy Tinnell, whose blocks kept the Lady War Eagles in check while simultaneously notching points.

“I think [Tinnell] makes a huge impact,” said Collins. “She had to fight for every point, and she did a great job blocking and offensively.”

Oak Ridge responded with scoring runs of their own. The removal of Tinnell from the College Park rotation aided the runs, which saw the Lady War Eagles reclaim the lead as both teams hit double digits.

Upon Tinnell’s reentry into the match, both teams jockeyed for points. Ties and minor lead changes defined the halfway point of the second set, with neither team being able to pull away.

A total of 12 ties in the second set kept tension at a fever pitch as points came at a premium. College Park finally began to pull away with a run of four points that put them on the doorstep of tying the match.

The Lady War Eagles had other plans, mounting a furious comeback effort that brought the set back to a battle of inches. More ties and lead changes in the 20s saw both teams scrap for meaningful traction that might end the set with themselves in front.

The set was pushed to extra points where the Lady Cavaliers finally finished the job, winning the intense second set 26-24.

Seemingly unfazed by the tough second set, College Park began the third with an immediate run that built an eight-point lead. Oak Ridge blocks were read and countered with tips at the net, causing confusion between the Lady War Eagle lines.

As they had done before, Oak Ridge bandaged the holes in their defense and went on a rally. Eight unanswered points from the Lady War Eagles brought the team within striking distance of tying, which they did at 17 points a piece.

The tie was only sustained for a short period as the Lady Cavaliers regrouped and claimed the set 25-23 despite another near comeback from the Lady War Eagles.

“I was hoping they trusted themselves,” said Collins on the close-set victories. “It was just a matter of executing and trusting themselves.”

With the game on the line, Oak Ridge was forced into desperation mode. Players hustled around the floor for the Lady War Eagles and laid out to make saves in the hope that something would bounce their way.

The Lady War Eagles did ride this hustle mentality to a three-point lead midway through the set with College Park on their heels. A couple of timeouts from Coach Collins gave her girls a much-needed pause to recollect themselves.

The timeouts worked to perfection. With Oak Ridge only needing a point to win the set, College Park battled from down and clinched the set 26-24, winning the match.

The win keeps the distance from the now third-place Lady Cavaliers and fourth-place Lady War Eagles present while also providing the potential for second to gall back to College Park.

“I think [the win] helps us take control of the things we can control,” said Collins on the win. “Obviously, we would be looking at second or third, and so those are our options right now, and we just want to fight for everything we can.”

Oak Ridge hits the road to play Caney Creek on Friday. College Park hosts New Caney and the Lady Eagles.

Comments •
Log In to Comment