KEIZER – The difference was that the Celtics were happy.
After McNary High School’s volleyball team raced out to a 2-0 lead against Cleveland in Wednesday night’s first round of the OSAA Class 6A state playoffs, the Celtics had a letdown in the third set and trailed as late as 15-14 in the fourth set.
But something changed at the end.
All of a sudden the Celtics were playing with the confidence with which they started the match and their play was completely different.
“We need to play happy,” said senior Vanessa Hayes, who had 14 kills and nine digs. “When we’re happy we get excited and everything goes well.”
No. 11 seed McNary closed out well for a 25-8, 25-20, 20-25, 25-21 win against No. 22 seed Cleveland at home.
McNary (20-6) advances to Saturday’s second round of the playoffs and plays at No. 6 seed Lakeridge. McNary split its two games against Lakeridge this season.
“We’re definitely feeling confident,” said McNary senior Madi Hingston, who had nine digs. “Lakeridge is an awesome team. We’ve seen them a couple times this year, we’ve split with them in tournaments. I think it’s going to be a great matchup. I’m confident in our team and what we can do.”
This is a McNary team that wants more.
The Celtics reached the 6A state tournament last year and at times this season played as well as any team in the state.
McNary started Tuesday’s match strong, racing out to a 13-2 lead and was never challenged in the first.
“They were playing error free,” McNary coach Kellie Scholl said. “That was it. They weren’t playing scared and they weren’t making a lot of unforced errors. When we play like that we do good.”
Cleveland’s size – in the form of 6-foot-5 senior Lilly Marella and 6-1 sophomore Kylie Ristvedt, who each had 11 kills – started affecting McNary as the match went on.
The Warriors didn’t take a lot of big swings on offense, taking McNary’s imposing block out of the picture for stretches.
Cleveland rallied late in the second set, then came back to win the third set 25-20.
“I think that we played pretty well against them,” Hayes said. “Despite their size we’re pretty quick so we’re able to play against a team their size with quickness.”
Down 15-14 in the fourth, Hingston tied the match with a kill and Sydney Hunter had two straight to spark a 5-0 run, and the Celtics closed out with a cross-court kill from the right side by Kalie Flores on match point.
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McNary d. Cleveland 3-1
Set scores: 25-8, 25-20, 20-25, 25-21
Kills: Ristvedt (C) 11, Marella (C) 11; Hayes (M) 14. Digs: Gilmour (M) 14. Blocks: Marella (C) 2; Flores (M) 7. Aces: Gilmour (M) 2.