Sherwood loses heartbreaker to Sprague in volleyball playoffs' second round
What a match.
It's been said before that some games no one deserves to lose, but in the end the Sprague Olympians were two points better than No. 6-ranked Sherwood in a five-set thriller in the second round of the OSAA state volleyball playoffs Saturday night, Oct. 30, at Sherwood Middle School.
In a match that saw the two teams alternate wins en route to a deciding fifth set, Sprague fought-off a match point then finished the home Bowmen when â€“ what would turn out to be â€“ Sherwood's final attack sailed long, giving the visitors a 25-23, 22-25, 25-23, 22-25, 16-14 second round win.
Despite the loss there were no sour grapes amongst this group of Bowmen netters, who seemed to sincerely appreciate what they'd been a part of for more than two-and-a-half-hours in a gym full of enthusiastic spectators.
"It was so much fun," Sherwood senior defensive specialist Gianna Friendy said through a few tears. "I'm not disappointed at all how we ended or anything that happened because we all played so hard, and I'm really proud of everybody on the team."
Sherwood head coach Jenette Brotnov echoed her senior's sentiment, speaking â€“ mostly â€“ to the competitiveness of the game and the fight from both teams.
"My girls played their hearts out and left everything on the court," Brotnov said. "That's a really good Sprague team and aside from a couple bad calls that didn't go our way, that game could've easily gone our direction. What a match."
What a match indeed. It was back-and-forth all night, and aside from two seven point leads that quickly evaporated, neither team led by more than four at any point throughout the night.
A combined eight players tallied at least seven kills in the match and Sherwood had five players, Caitlin Kirkpatrick (9), Emily Fulton (14), Rylee Perlmutter (12), Aria Birdsong (8), and Liv Van Austen (10) finish with eight or better.
Brotnov spoke to that depth after the match and said that because of that â€“ amongst other things â€“ is excited for what this could springboard them into next season.
"It's (depth) the strength of this team," she said. "We get a lot of contributions from a lot of girls and we return a lot of kids, so I'm looking forward to next year and having a lot of them back."
Sprague was led most of the night by senior outside hitter Abby Sorensen who finished with 22 kills. The somewhat undersized hitter was dynamic from mostly the left side, repeatedly putting pressure on Sherwood blockers and defensive specialists. Sherwood however had potency of their own, using their five-person rotation, along with Friendy and senior blocker Emma Wagner, to combat the Olympians attack.
"I mean, Gianna (Friendy) and Emma Wagner were incredible," Brotnov said. "Gianna was digging everything out and Emma, she is not tall in the middle, but she blocked those cannon balls all night and made a huge difference."
After the two teams split the first four sets, they went back-and-forth in the fifth with neither team at any point separating by more than three points. The Bowmen went ahead 6-3, Sprague battled-back to win six straight to build a 9-6 lead, then Sherwood responded to go ahead 14-13 before the Olympians scored three straight for the winning margin.
Despite the defeat, Brotnov was more interested in talking about what was an otherwise great season opposed to what was a somewhat sour ending, speaking to her girls' effort all year, along with their accomplishments.
"I'm so proud of them," she said. "This is the first time that Sherwood has won a league championship at the 6A level and I thought they were top-notch tonight. They had a great season."
Friendy agreed. And in spite of the loss and the tears she shed in the wake of it, she had gratitude for what was, and excitement for what could be for next year's team.
"I'm really excited for next year's team," Friendy said. "Out of the 10 kids who played in this match, they return seven. That's huge and they're going to be awesome."
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