By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief
The No. 10 ranked Union Redskins (5-5) probably expected little competition from the No. 17 Sand Springs Lady Sandites (13-9). Union’s only losses before their journey to Sand Springs were to top-ten teams. Unfortunately for them, the Sandites’ ranking is misleading.
The Charles Page High School varsity volleyball team had recently gone 2-4 at the Broken Arrow Invitational, but that record doesn’t show that they were one of only two teams there to win even a single set against No. 2 Norman North (12-2). It also doesn’t show that six of the ten games they lost were by five points or less.
The Redskins got off to a fast start on the Sandites in the first set before giving up three points on errors. Madison Burris and Gloria Mutiri combined on a block to tie things up at 4-4 and Mutiri scored a kill for the lead.
Union went on a five-point run from there, but the Sandites won eight-straight rallies to reclaim the advantage. Mutiri and Holly Kersgieter each scored several kills off Burris and Lee Leslie, and Madison Ward scored the first ace of the game.
The Sandites were up 16-11 when Union went on another streak. Kendall Cotter scored a pair of aces, Gabbie Inman and Paris Hornor both registered kills, and the Redskins took the 19-16 lead before freshman Devree Youngblood broke the streak with a spike off Burris. Union continued to outscore Sand Springs till a 24-19 score looked like they had it all wrapped up.
The Sandites had other plans.
Mutiri scored off Kenzie Bradshaw, Kylie Taylor served an ace, Ashley Barrows gave up a point on an error, and MaKenzie Ward set up Mutiri to narrow the score to 24-23. Barrows scored a kill to win the set for Union, but the Sandites had shown they were here to play.
The second set was far closer and neither team allowed the other to go on a run this time. The longest scoring-streak either team managed was four rallies. The game was tied up six different times, but the Sandites led six different times and only allowed the Redskins to lead once.
Union tied things up at 15-15 with a kill from Chloe Click, then took the lead on a pair of errors. They held the advantage for only five rallies before giving it up on an error at 18-18 and never recovered. Mutiri took the lead at 20-19 off a set from MaKenzie Ward, Kersgieter served an ace, then scored again after a Union time out. The final minutes were back-and-forth on scoring, but Sand Springs never relinquished the lead and ultimately won 25-23 on a kill from Mutiri.
The third game belonged explosively to the Sandites. After giving up the first three rallies to Union on errors, the Sandites tied things up at 4-4 and took the lead with back-to-back aces from Burris. Union never tied it and never even got close to leading again.
The Sandites scored seven aces in the third game: two from Burris, two from Kersgieter, two from Kendall Wise, and one from Mutiri. The host team had doubled down on their visitors 22-10 midway through the game. The Redskins tried to rally, but they were too far in the deficit and Sand Springs won 25-17.
The visitors found their feet in the fourth game and led for most of it. Sand Springs battled heavy in the last minutes and got within a few points, but Union prevailed 25-22 to force a fifth set.
The final game started off a tad rocky for the Sandites with some communication errors and campfires, but after tying it up at 5-5 with a kill from Mutiri, the Sandites took the lead and never looked back. Kersgieter scored the go-ahead point, Mutiri and Leslie combined on a block, Hornor committed an error, Mutiri added another kill, and Mutiri and Leslie combined on yet another block for the 10-5 lead.
The next five points were decided by errors and the Redskins closed the gap to 12-9 with a tipped ball from Inman. Kersgieter almost saved a shanked dig that went OB, but the ball caught the antenna for the point. Morgan Livingston hit an ace, and the Redskins threatened at 12-11.
Union got into the net on the next rally and Wise served an ace to make it 14-11. A four-touch call gave Union a point, but MaKenzie Ward set up Youngblood for the game-winner.
Mutiri led the Sandites in scoring with twenty-nine kills, five blocks, and two aces, followed by Kersgieter with a season-best fourteen kills, two assists, and four aces. Youngblood was next in on the action with a season-best ten kills, and Wise also scored a season-best with five kills and four aces. Burris had her best night of the season with nineteen assists, followed by MaKenzie Ward with eighteen.
The Lady Sandites will get a full week off after playing twenty matches in twenty-one days. They’ll return to action next Tuesday in an away match at Owasso. Owasso is ranked fifth in 6A with a 4-0 record. Freshmen begin play at 4:00 p.m., Junior Varsity is at 5:00 p.m. and Varsity is at 6:00 p.m.