Though the girls’ varsity volleyball team started with some of the “best volleyball” they’ve played, according to coach Jason Kreps, they weren’t able to win against the Western Sierra High School Saints on Sept. 29.

The team went into the game feeling confident, according to senior Tori Van Vleck.

“I really wanted to win and believed we could because we had some close games last time we played Western Sierra,” Van Vleck said. “It was one of our first games, and our team hadn’t established a lot of chemistry yet, so I thought we would do better this time.”

And in the first set, the team did.

With almost no unforced errors on either side, both teams alternated with the Cavs in the lead until the Saints caught up at 14-14.

From then on, the teams kept trading points up to a tense 25-25 score. Only two more points were needed by either team to win.

After subbing junior Naomi Turnbull in to serve, the Cavs won the point, bringing them one point away from winning the first set.

Spectators on both sides of the court were all at the edges of their seats, waiting to see the outcome of the pivotal rally.

And with a hit from senior Heidi Johnson straight through the Saints’ defense, the Cavs won the first set, 27-25.

However, right as the set ended, Kreps noticed something he knew would affect the team’s performance.

“Almost the entire crowd left,” Kreps said. “It’s really frustrating when you have that momentum, and you just lose it because a soccer game starts.”

And so, with most of their supporters gone, the Cavs went into their second set.

They once again started alternating points, though this time the Saints took the lead, 12-16.

However the Cavs weren’t ready to give up yet, and they quickly brought the score back to a tie, 17-17.

They kept trading points until Western Sierra once more took the lead, 19-23.

The Cavs kept the pressure on the Saints, but it wasn’t enough, and the Saints won, 22-25.

Kreps said the teams decrease in   performance was likely due to the chalk mural, which many players on the team spent all day doing.

“I think the day really got to them,” Kreps said. “A lot of the team spent all day working on the chalk mural.

“But we do a lot here at Country Day, and that’s what special about it.

“The fact that we proved to ourselves that we could play that well together  – playing almost flawless volleyball – that’s something we can build on.”

With their momentum wavering, the Cavs started to tire after the second set.

The Saints started the third set with a seven-point serving run, allowing the Cavs only a few points before bringing the game to 3-15.

After a timeout called by Kreps, the team was able to come back with a three-point run, but it was quickly shut down by the Saints, who brought the third set to a quick 6-25 finish.

“A lot of our starting line up had worked on the chalk mural all day in the sun and had probably not drunk enough water,” Van Vleck said.

Kreps echoed the thought, saying that as the team got more and more tired, they started making more mental mistakes and unforced errors.

But even into the fourth and final set, the Cavs put up a fight.

They started alternating points once more, though the Saints were able to take the lead and keep it, bringing the score to 8-22.

But even facing a 14-point lead, the Cavs kept fighting, scoring three points before the Saints could finish up the game, 11-25.

“Those first two games, that was playoff volleyball right there,” Kreps said. “That’s how we’re going to need to play if we’re going to want to go deep into the playoffs.”

The girls’ next game is on Friday, Oct. 9, against El Dorado Adventist Academy at El Dorado Adventist at 6 p.m.

By Mehdi Lacombe