Volleyball: Cherokee Trail, Grandview go the distance yet again

Cherokee Trail-Grandview Volleyball, 10.2.14
Cherokee Trail volleyball players Portia McIntosh (2), Sidney Wicks (8), Azlyn Cassaday (1) and Robyn Krause (5) celebrate after the Cougars closed out a five-set Centennial League victory over rival Grandview on Oct. 2, 2014, at Cherokee Trail High School. The Cougars prevailed 25-22, 20-25, 28-30, 25-18, 15-6 in the second five-set match between the teams in two weeks. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

AURORA | The Cherokee Trail and Grandview volleyball teams couldn’t quite match their epic first meeting, but Thursday’s rematch provided a fantastic facsimile.

For the second time in two weeks, the evenly-matched Cougars and Wolves needed five sets and a whole lot of drama to decide a winner and for the second time, Cherokee Trail prevailed.

Bolstered by 26 kills from junior Shannon Webb and 23 from senior Azlyn Cassaday — plus outstanding defense against the Wolves and dangerous star Haley McLaren — coach Terry Miller’s Cougars came away with a 25-22, 20-25, 28-30, 25-18, 15-6 Centennial League victory.

Cherokee Trail-Grandview Volleyball, 10.2.14
Cherokee Trail’s Shannon Webb serves early in the Cougars’ five-set volleyball win over Grandview on Oct. 2, 2014, at Cherokee Trail High School. (Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

“It was almost identical to the first time, you have two prizefighters trying to punch each other out and it’s last man standing, literally,” said Miller, whose program had never beaten Grandview coming into the season, but now is on a winning streak against the Wolves.

“I’m proud of the team I have,” he added. “I don’t see them panic or have that look of ‘oh my goodness, we’re going to lose this.’ After we beat them the first time, it was like getting that white whale off our back and now you have the confidence to play.”

Despite the tireless efforts of McLaren — who piled up 32 kills plus 20 digs — Katie Patrick (12 kills, 7 blocks) and others, coach Patty Childress’ Grandview team dropped its second match in a row and finds itself at 8-6 overall and 1-2 in the Centennial League.

Cassaday, who easily bettered her previous season-high in kills of 15 set in the previous match against Grandview, said she and her teammates could have kept playing if they needed to.

“I could go on forever, are you kidding me? These kinds of games are what I live for; they are so fun, especially against a team like that,” she said.

Seniors Portia McIntosh and Kristina Schell combined for 39 digs and senior setter Sidney Wicks piled up 51 assists for Cherokee Trail in a match that saw the teams play a total of 214 points after racking up 256 in the first meeting, which included a game that finished 38-36.

Cherokee Trail and Grandview have now gone to five games in three of their last four meetings stretching back to the 2012 season.

Cherokee Trail-Grandview Volleyball, 10.2.14
Grandview senior Megan Hufnagel sets a ball during the second game of the Wolves’ five-game loss to Cherokee Trail on Oct. 2, 2014, at Cherokee Trail High School. (Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

Though it wasn’t played in the same raucous environment as the first time around — in part because of a football game going on between the two schools around the same time — this meeting appeared destined for five sets from the start.

The Wolves did grab the momentum in the middle, including a 30-28 victory in the third game to take a 2-1 lead, but Webb’s big start in the fourth game helped Cherokee Trail lead from start to finish in the fourth game and send it to a fifth when Cassaday’s perfectly placed shot in the back corner sealed a 25-18 win.

“They took two off of us and it frazzled us a little bit, but we came back,” Cassaday said. “The fact that we came back how we did was awesome.”

Unlike the previous meeting that finished 16-14 in the fifth set, it was all Cougars this time.

Patrick gave Grandview the first point with a block, but fatigue, errors and relentless Cherokee Trail defense caught up with the Wolves the rest of the game.

On a key point late, Schell made three digs of the hard-hitting McLaren and the Cougars eventually won the point when a Grandview player touched the net.

“That really wears you out, especially when that is one of your players that you go to a lot,” Childress said. “I thought CT’s defense was really good and we’re still struggling to find another hitter or two who can terminate.”

After Cassaday’s kill brought up match point, the game came to an anticlimactic end when the Wolves were penalized for being out of rotation.

Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. Facebook: Aurora Prep Sentinel

CHEROKEE TRAIL DEF. GRANDVIEW 25-22, 20-25, 28-30, 25-18, 15-6

Grandview kills: Haley McLaren 32, Katie Patrick 12, Abby Myers 5, Sarah Mullens 4, Madisen Busler 2, Megan Hufnagel, Kayla Lewis, Tara Stillwell; Cherokee Trail kills: Shannon Webb 26, Azlyn Cassaday 23, Amazing Ashby 6, Sidney Wicks 6, Morgan Welsh, Robyn Krause; Grandview digs: Stillwell 21, McLaren 20, Hufnagel 16, Racheal Rupprecht 16, Mullens 6, Myers 2, Lewis; Cherokee Trail digs: Portia McIntosh 22, Kristina Schell 17, Webb 10, Cassaday 9, Wicks 6, Krause 4, Mehana Fonseca, Welsh; Grandview assists: Hufnagel 45, Stillwell 2; Cherokee Trail assists: Wicks 51, Schell 5, McIntosh 2, Cassaday, Welsh