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Hidden Valley Nips Cave Spring In 5-Set Volleyball Thriller

Cave Spring’s Cecily Doyle (in red) battles Hidden Valley’s Frannie Sine for a ball at the top of the net Thursday night in the Titan gym. (Bill Turner photo).

Advice for anyone who thinks there’s domination by one team in the Hidden Valley-Cave Spring volleyball rivalry.

Better watch the replay of Thursday night’s shootout thriller in the Titan gym.

Rallying from being down match-set heading to game four, Hidden Valley came off the mat to hold off Cave Spring 3-2, including 15-13 in the first-to-15-points, fifth-set tiebreaker.

Cave Spring rolled into the season finale playing its third match in as many nights, and the Knights came oh-so-close to putting a huge damper on Titan Senior Night activities for the six Hidden Valley upperclassmen, Marley Willard, Jahnvi Patel, Meg Coolbaugh, Sawyer Freeland, Laurn Kupec and Madi Lovern.

While Hidden Valley had prevailed 3-0 less than a month ago at Cave Spring, the Knights had shown a different look under first-year head coach Kylee Beecher that proved to be an omen on Thursday.

Hidden Valley looked to be in championship form in the opening set, breaking away from a 4-4 tie to go up 10-5 and 20-8 before Patel served up the Titan set winner at 25-11.

But, the teams changed ends and it was like someone on the Cave Spring side flipped on the overdrive switch in set-2.

The Knights scored the first 4 points, and when Cave Spring senior Hannah Smith put back a smash-mouth block of a Hidden Valley drive to put the Knights up 11-5, Cave Spring was in high gear and pushed the advantage to 20-13. The Titans cut the deficit to four, but the Knights went on a 4-2 run finished off by a kill by Taylor Robertson to win 25-19.

“We came out with the idea of spoiling their senior night,” Robertson, who had a match-high 28 kills, noted afterward. “Hidden Valley has so many good players and I know most of them. After we lost the first set it was a matter of finding a way to refocus and having a new mindset. I’ve been here three years and that was our first set win over them during that time.”

With the gym turning totally raucous, Cave Spring took up where it left off in set-3, jumping out to an 11-2 lead before Hidden Valley started to chip away. But, service errors waylaid every Titan rally, and even though they would eventually close to within 23-21, another serving mistake gave Cave Spring its 24th point and the Knights put down the next score for the 25-21 victory.

“We really played better in sets 2 and 3,” Robertson added. “There was so much energy from everyone on our team.”

Cave Spring senior Taylor Robertson sizes up the Hidden Valley defense Thursday night as the Knights nearly pulled off the stunning win. Robertson had a match-high 28 kills. (Bill Turner photo).

Frustration clearly  showed on the Titan side, even to the point that head coach Carla Ponn retired the team to the locker room during the break after set-3.

“Let’s just say we talked it out,” Titan Sawyer Freeland said of the departure from the typical court side huddle between sets.

Something struck a nerve as Hidden Valley ran away to leads of 6-0 and 17-9 in set-4, before things got interesting when Cave Spring rallied to close to 20-18. But, Freeland’s perfectly placed dink started a 5-2 Titan run that sent the match to the tiebreaker.

Cave Spring got the early lead, but Coolbaugh’s kill, one of her 27 on the night to go along with 16 digs, knotted things at 3 before Hidden Valley pushed out to a 13-8 advantage. Cave closed to 13-12 and 14-13 down the stretch before the Titans scored the match winner.

Freeland slammed down 17 kills for the Titans, while Willard brought up 20 digs and junior Frannie Sine posted  an all-star night of 46 assists, 8 kills and 4 aces.

Hannah Smith set the Cave Spring table with 24 assists, with Kylie Angel bringing up 13 digs.

“Cave Spring played well,” Freeland pointed out. “Taylor is a great player and Kylee is a great coach. After we went down 2-1 we had to play one point at a time and we knew we needed to execute. Once we figured that out we were ready to go. I can guarantee you we’ll be working on serves tomorrow.”

“This is huge for us going into the River Ridge tournament,” Robertson emphatically noted of the Cave Spring performance. “It really gives us a lot of momentum.”

Bill Turner

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