Before they set foot on the court for the first time on Tuesday night, East Sac’s volleyball team had heard all about what Clarion-Goldfield-Dows was like.
Hearing how the Cowgirls played proved not to be the same experience of actually playing them. After a rough start to the first set, East Sac rebounded, but ultimately fell short to the Cowgirls 3-0.
“You can talk to teams and watch film all you want,” said East Sac head volleyball coach Brenda Olerich. “Until you play them, though, you can’t really understand that dynamic. You can plan for a certain way for the game to go, but until you play them and taste their dynamic, its hard to get a good feeling for them.”
East Sac seemed to get that feeling midway through a hard-fought second set when the Raiders were able to take a 11-7 lead. That held until C-G-D went on a five point run. Both teams traded the lead back and fourth throughout the rest of the second set, but C-G-D took the lead the final time, winning the second set 25-20.
The third set once again featured both teams trading the lead with each other.
One of the turnarounds between the matches, according to Olerich, was just the volleyball knowledge of the players.
“The girls were able to analyze what they needed to do,” Olerich said. “That is really nice as a coach because you can focus on other things. The girls went out there and were able to get the lead. They changed things and went after the match.”
Clarion-Goldfield-Dows made their own adjustments as well.
The Cowgirls grabbed a 20-16 lead near the end of the third set, but that just seemed to spark the Raiders more as they blocked their way back into the match, and held off C-G-D as the Cowgirls threatened to end the season for East Sac.
Although the Raiders were fighting their way back, C-G-D’s lead was too much and the Cowgirls were able to earn a third-set 25-19 victory. With that they took the match to move onto the State tournament.
“I remember all of my seasons from when I was an assistant coach with the team,” Olerich said. “This season we had a team that was just more together than any other team that I can remember. They hung out more, and that really showed on the court.”
East Sac finished the season undefeated in the Twin Lakes Conference, capturing both a regular season and tournament title.
“Sometimes the girls go and play club ball with other coaches,” Olerich said. “That is good for them, but seeing them play club volleyball together is really good for them. They are able to communicate on the floor together despite being in different grades, because they are all learning the same basics of the game. They can also bring all of their personalities together.”