By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief
The No. 15 ranked Charles Page High School varsity volleyball team (21-12) hosted the No. 6 Broken Arrow Tigers (18-5) Tuesday night and battled valiantly through the match, dropping three close sets of 23-25, 23-25, and 21-25. Offensively the Sandites actually had the edge with 45 kills to the Tigers' 44, but the Broken Arrow team was more disciplined defensively and committed far less errors.
Sand Springs: 45 kills, 31 errors
Broken Arrow: 44 kills, 22 errors
SS Kills: Mutiri 22, Kersgieter 7, Youngblood 5, Leslie 3, Burris 3, Mudd 1, Cypert 1.
BA Kills: Bledsoe 19, Wratten 9, Smith 9, Blackburn 2, Bercher 2, Cowan 1.
SS Assists: Burris 16, Ward 6, Cypert 2, Leslie 1.
BA Assists: Blackburn 31
SS Digs: Leslie 14, Taylor 11, Kersgieter 6, Mutiri 5, Burris 2, Mudd 2, Ward 2, Ward 2, Cypert 1.
All three sets were back-and-forth affairs with the scoring being tied for nearly a quarter of the match. Broken Arrow led for the majority of the first and second sets, but the Sandites actually had the edge in game three before the Tigers came from behind to spoil it.
Sand Springs committed fourteen kills in the first set with eight of them coming from junior Ohio State University commit Gloria Mutiri. Madison Burris registered five assists in the first game. The most the Sandites ever trailed by was 17-13 before going on a four-point run to tie it up thanks to a kill from Mutiri, an ace from Holly Kersgieter, and a tipped ball from freshman Devree Youngblood.
It was a back-and-forth game from there until an error by Makina Wratten tied it up at 20-20 and the Sandites took the lead on an ace from Burris. Kamryn Smith tied it back up at 21-21, but Mutiri scored back-to-back kills off sets from Burris and Makenna Cypert for the 23-21 advantage.
Those would be the last points the Sandites would score, however, as Mackenzie Backburn set up Mia Bledsoe for back-to-back kills, followed by back-to-back aces from Julia Bercher to win the game 25-23. Both teams committed nine errors apiece in the first set, but the Tigers had 16 kills to the Sandites' 14.
Sand Springs scored the first kill of game two thanks to Youngblood, but the Tigers won the next four with a pair of kills from Wratten and an ace from Smith. Sand Springs one-upped the Tigers with five-straight rallies off two kills from Mutiri and a combined block by Mutiri and Cypert to lead 6-4. They held that lead till 7-7 when Blackburn set up Bledsoe for back-to-back kills. The Sandites struggled to keep the lead from there and by 11-10, it was the Tigers with the advantage.
The Sandites didn't lead again for the duration of the game, but they tied it up six more times before Broken Arrow took the penultimate lead at 17-16. Sand Springs got close at 24-23 off a Mutiri kill and Burris assist, but Blackburn scored on a fake set tipped ball to secure another 25-23 victory. Once again it was Mutiri who led the scoring for the Sandites with nine points, and Burris registered seven assists.
Sand Springs got off to another great start in the final set and lead for 45% of the game. Wratten scored the first kill of the set, but Lee Leslie tied it up, Mutiri took the lead on a kill, Burris served an ace, and Mutiri registered a solo block for the 4-1 advantage. Broken Arrow didn't manage to tie it till 10-10 off a Sandite error.
From there the game was back-and-forth. Burris, Cypert, and Bledsoe all hit aces. The game tied at 19-19 off a Tiger error, but once they regained the lead, they held it till the end and won 25-21.
Errors have been the defining factor in nearly every Sandite loss this season as the high-powered Sandite offense led by Mutiri, Kersgieter, and Youngblood has little difficulty in keeping up in a shootout. Any time the communication is good, the Sandites win with incredible numbers. But when they start building campfires and colliding, that's when it falls apart. Lately, however, they've done far more destroying than falling apart.
The Sandites upset No. 14 Bixby 3-2, went 6-2 at the Catoosa Tournament, upset 4A No. 1 Metro Christian 2-0, and upset No. 10 Union 3-2 as well. Since the month began, their only losses have been 3-0 to No. 5 Owasso, 2-0 to 4A No. 3 Victory Christian, and 2-0 to 4A No. 1 Metro Christian, who they split with. The errors that plagued the beginning of the season are becoming fewer, the defense is getting tighter, and the offense is continuing to give it 100% all the way till the end.
The Sandites have only two matches left before the Regional tournament and both are away games. They will travel to 5A No. 5 Collinsville (19-9) this Thursday at 6:00 p.m., and will take on their Highway 97 rivals from Sapulpa (2-11) next Monday at 6:30 p.m.