Playoff loss to Sprague ends Glencoe's season
This really wasn't a surprise.
Glencoe's volleyball season came to an end in the first round of the OSAA state playoffs Wednesday night, Oct. 30, at Sprague High School.
The Crimson Tide were defeated in straight sets by the Olympians 25-16, 25-13, 25-16, and while competitive at times, it was an uphill battle for the No. 27-ranked Tide against the taller, more athletic and hard-hitting Mountain Valley Conference champions.
"We were up against a really good team and we knew that and that we would have to play our very best, and at times I thought we did," Glencoe head coach Mike Gaffaney said. "But we kind of live and die by our serves, and a couple of our stronger servers, they weren't having a good night, which makes it really hard for us to compete."
Sprague — who brings five players 5-foot-10 or taller to the table — clearly caused Glencoe problems at the net, both by way of kills, blocks, and mentally by way of obstruction for the Tide's offensive personnel. Outside hitter Bridgette Smith tallied 14 kills as part of a well-rounded Olympian attack, and Reese Sherwood, Celia Hubbard, and Hannah Blubaugh were part of a group of Sprague weapons that seemingly had their way with a smaller Tide team at the mercy of a devastating Olympian attack.
"All we can do is try to keep them out of system, because when they are in system, they have bangers and can put you in bad spots," the coach said. "You've got to give it to their outside hitters, they were hitting the ball really hard and I think were playing with the confidence of playing at home and against a lower seed."
Whatever it was, it worked. Despite another strong performance from Glencoe junior Jayda Lee, who totaled 11 kills, two aces and a handful of blocks, the Tide simply weren't able to provide the type of threat necessary to apply pressure to a Sprague team loose from the opening tip. It was all hard for Glencoe, and without the aid of a typically strong Tide passing performance, the visitors from Hillsboro were somewhat weaponless against the No. 6-ranked Olympians.
"I thought at times we passed the ball well off of our serve," Gaffaney said. "But like what's hurt us all year, we get into ruts, and against a really good team like this, you have to pass well."
Glencoe got off to a quick start, building an early 7-4 lead. But Sprague ran-off 12 straight points to flip the script, then despite the Tide battling back to within 21-16, closed with four straight points to take the match's opening set.
The second set started similarly and remained close until near the midway point before Sprague's talent— coupled with self-inflicted Tide wounds — allowed the home Olympians to pull away.
To their credit, as expected the Tide didn't quit, hanging within five points of Sprague for much of the third set thanks primarily to Lee, junior Lydia Hall and senior Aneli Godinez-Martinez. But it was all for not, as Smith practically finished Glencoe on her own, killing five of six points late before Sherwood ended the match with a block, sending the Olympians to the second round and the Tide home with the 2019 season in the rearview mirror.
Gaffaney lamented the loss, but also reflected on what he maintains was another block in the foundation of a program he and the school should be proud of.
"For us to have this kind of experience, to always go to the post-season consistently, I think it's a good reminder of the quality of our program and the quality of our kids," he said. "This hurts a lot, but I think overall we're just going to focus on the good things that we did this season."
And how does next year's team look?
"I like the group coming back," Gaffaney said. "I think we've got a good athletic group coming back, that while not tall, I think they have the capability of being as strong, if not stronger than this group.
"I've learned that kids at this level can surprise you, by growing physically, mentally, and sometimes just maturing, so I never have expectations until around August, when you really see what you've got."
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