Cougars fall in district final

CCA loses to Irish, 3-1, to fall short of a district title

BIG RAPIDS — After watching the first set of Thursday’s Class D volleyball district final between Crossroads Charter Academy and Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart, it’d be fair for someone to think the Cougars would have cruised to a victory for a district title.

AT THE NET: Crossroads’ Malory Carlson (right) tries to spike the ball past a pair of Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart defenders on Thursday. The Cougars fell to the Irish, 3-1, in the Class D district final. (Pioneer photo/Greg Buckner)

AT THE NET: Crossroads’ Malory Carlson (right) tries to spike the ball past a pair of Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart defenders on Thursday. The Cougars fell to the Irish, 3-1, in the Class D district final. (Pioneer photo/Greg Buckner)

But after that 25-20 opening-set victor, the Cougars dropped the next three sets to fall 3-1 (25-20, 7-25, 10-25, 16-25) to the Irish and let a chance at a district title slip through their hands.

CCA coach Amanda Brown said she couldn’t pinpoint exactly what changed for the Cougars after they came out and controlled the first set.

“I wish I could put my finger on it,” she said. “It just came down to serving and passing and doing the simple things that win games and that’s what we stopped doing.

“It’s not that the girls lost focus, but it just wasn’t flowing on the court for us,” she added.

The Cougars came out firing in that first set as they built up a 17-10 lead following a kill by Malory Carlson, but the Irish fought back with a 9-6 scoring run to trim the CCA lead to 23-19.

CCA held on though and got its final two points on two kills from Miranda Carlson to secure the 25-20 set victory.

“They were focused and they knew had they had to do and what they wanted to do,” Brown said of her

team’s first-set performance.

Despite having the momentum on their side, the Cougars let the Irish build up a 10-4 lead before eventually the Irish went on a 15-3 scoring run to secure the 25-7 set victory and even up the score at 1-1.

The Irish took control of the momentum after their second-set victory and didn’t let go in the third set as they raced out to a 13-4 lead and went on a 12-6 scoring run to score the 25-10 set victory and take a 2-1 lead on the Cougars.

CCA wouldn’t go quietly, as the Cougars fought back from an early 0-4 hole and cut the Irish lead to 7-4 after an ace from Malory Carlson. The small deficit soon ballooned to a 20-11 lead for the Irish and they used that big lead to hang on for the 25-16 set victory and a 3-1 win over the Cougars to bring the district trophy to Mount Pleasant.

Malory Carlson had an ace to go with her 11 kills and 19 digs while Miranda Carlson recorded five kills, 18 digs and 19 assists. Katie Vander Sloot had a kill, two aces, 10 digs and 53 assists and Megan Soller scored an ace, two kills and 12 digs.

Despite the final score, Brown said she was pleased with the way her team fought back all night.

“It was very good seeing all of the volleys,” she said. “It’s nice seeing the long volleys because that shows the girls are still competing and trying hard.

“As long as they can walk off the floor knowing they played their hardest, I guess it’s a good way to end the season,” she added.

While the loss in the district final might sting for a little bit, Brown said she’s excited about the future of a CCA program that only loses two seniors, Soller and Malory Carlson, to graduation after winning the West Michigan D League title this season.

“I’m hoping we’re going to stay strong and carry that on to next year,” she said. “The hard work that my five juniors put in will hopefully make the younger players coming up understand what it takes to be successful.”

Leave a Reply