Glencoe falls to Clackamas in playoffs' first round
No complaints. That was the theme following Glencoe's first round playoff defeat to Clackamas, Oct. 24, at Clackamas High School.
True, the Crimson Tide lost in straight sets to No. 13-ranked Clackamas, 25-19, 25-19, 25-21, but despite the loss and the first round exit from this year's state playoffs, Glencoe head coach Mike Gaffaney was pleased with his team's performance against the favored Cavaliers, and equally if not more pleased with what can only be deemed a success by the fourth-year coach's standard.
"We talked in our meeting after the game about how we have an entire season of success to reflect on," said the coach. "We hadn't won our league in 10 years, so that was a huge accomplishment. I hope they remember that, because I thought we had a really exciting season and never gave up, and I love that about this team."
Morgan DeBord, Glencoe's lone senior, echoed her coach's sentiment. Speaking proudly of her team's play, while tipping her proverbial cap to their opponent in defeat.
"Honestly I think we played one of our best games this season," the standout outside hitter said. "But Clackamas was good, so I can't take anything away from them."
And Clackamas was good. The third place team from the Mt. Hood Conference got behind early, but after overtaking Glencoe 14-13 in the first set, used a consistent attack from Jaiden Armitage, Isabelle Combs and 6-foot-1 middle blocker Grace Fonville to overpower a smaller and less experienced Tide squad, continually putting pressure on a feisty Glencoe team that repeatedly hung around.
"In the first set we were a bit slow to start, but I think as it went on the girls found a groove and were able to perform," said Clackamas head coach Lisa McBee. "We've been working really hard at being consistent, organized, and really putting pressure on early and I think it was really effective."
Glencoe jumped on the Cavaliers early, scoring six of the match's first seven points, forcing Clackamas to take an early timeout to regroup. From there, Armitage and Fonville kept the home Cavaliers close until they finally overtook the Tide midway through the set before Combs finished things, killing three of Clackamas' final five points en route to a 25-19 win.
The Cavaliers reversed things in the second set, opening-up a 10-6 lead before the Tide battled back to within one, 15-14, behind the hitting of DeBord and sophomore Jayda Lee. But with every Glencoe comeback, Clackamas seemed to have an answer, keeping the Tide at arm's length with two to three point runs that culminated in a 25-19 second set victory. Something McBee attributed to her team's ability to make the simple and fundamental play when it mattered most.
"Things went really well tonight," McBee said. "Our hitters were in good position and their passing was on, and we've really been working on passing and fundamentals. I think it really showed tonight."
There was no quit in the Tide though. Despite trailing two sets to none and falling behind 9-5 in the third set, Glencoe battled back to tie the score 9-9, then took an 18-17 lead before again being beaten into submission by a bevy of blocks and kills by — you guessed it — Fonville, who closed the set and match with a signature kill to trigger a Cavalier celebration, and the subsequent end to an otherwise successful Tide season.
"I thought both teams played good volleyball, but I think Clackamas was very consistent," Gaffaney said. "We had some hiccups and errors, but I thought we played some of the best defense we played all year, but to hand it to Clackamas, they still beat us in three."
McBee, while proud of her own team's effort, spoke glowingly of Glencoe's performance and was very complimentary of Tide players and program as a whole.
"Glencoe has an amazing team," said the Clackamas coach. "Their defense was really, really terrific, and they were really motivated and they were not going to give up. I give them a ton of credit for really having a phenomenal season because of the effort and hard work they put in, and you can see it in their passing and defense."
The loss marked the end of DeBord's decorated volleyball career, which included two — and likely three — all-league honors and two appearances in the state tournament. Gaffaney, who's coached the senior since her freshman year, acknowledged her accomplishments and celebrated her final season, in which she was asked to play a different position (outside hitter) and accept a role with which she was unfamiliar.
"Mo had a great senior season," Gaffaney said. "She stepped up and assumed that leadership role and did a great job. It will be a great experience for her going forward. She really did an awesome job."
And how did DeBord view her final year run on the court?
"I enjoyed being a leader, but I connected well with these girls so it was easy to lead them," she said. "It was definitely different, but it was what the team needed and I'd do anything for the team."
Now, looking towards next season, it will be Lee who's called upon to lead the team and the sophomore seems anxious to do just that.
"This year I was one of only three returning players and I had to take a different role," Lee said. "Rather than sitting back I had to reach out to the other girls and Mike talked to me about how next year I'm going to have to step up. It'll be different again next year, but I'm excited for it."