Evergreen was a serve away from winning their first ever post-season tournament match
November 14, 2003
by James J. Portune
Ashland, OR - The Achilles Heal of the 2003 Evergreen Women's Volleyball team has been service errors and it was a service error that knocked them out of the Cascade Conference Post-Season Tournament.
Trailing 13-14, to #3 Concordia University Cavaliers (12-6 Cascade Conference, 13-12 Overall) in the fifth and final game of the opening round of the tournament, a serve error on the part of Evergreen (10-8 CCC, 14-12 Overall) gave Concordia their 15th point, the game and the match win.
"The altitude and several of the girls not being 100% health got us," said head coach Bill Lash. "We simply ran out of gas."
Up to the final serve, Evergreen's first ever appearance in the post-season tournament was going well. During the regular season Evergreen lost twice to Concordia, 3-0 and 3-1. The third time both teams took the floor Evergreen jumped to a 9-0 lead and turned the advantage into a game one 33-31 win. Junior middle blocker Meredith Lane (Olympia, Wash./Olympia H.S.) and setter Hanna Plunk (Bloomfield, CO / Bloomfield HS) powered Evergreen's offense with 4 kills each. Together, the team converted 23% of their attacks into kills, while Concordia was only able to turn 18%.
The momentum the Geoducks built in game one carried over into game two and Evergreen defeated the Cavaliers 30-27. This time it was Evergreen's defense the overwhelmed Concordia's offense. Three solo blocks and 2 assist blocks by Lane, 3 assist blocks by sophomore Kristen Bartley (Lubbock, TX / Monterey HS) and an assist block from senior Stephanie Short (Spokane, WA / Shadle Park HS) and Plunk limited the Cavaliers to a match low 10% hitting.
But the four-time defending Cascade Conference tournament champions Concordia had no intentions of travelling 240 miles to Ashland, OR to loss in the opening round of the tournament. Regrouping, they recorded 18 team kills and beat Evergreen in game three, 30-27.
Like Evergreen did after winning game one, Corcordia rode the momentum of winning game 3 into game 4 and defeated Evergreen a second consecutive time, 30-24. The Geoducks helped the Cavalier's efforts by recording only 9 kills and hitting a match low 3%.
With elimination looming on the horizon for both teams, game five proved to be a dog fight. Evergreen rolled off three consecutive points. Concordia caught up and went ahead 4-5. Evergreen's offense fired once again and the Geoducks rolled to an 11-8 lead. Concordia answered and stepped to the threshold of victory, leading 14-12. Senior outside hitter Richele Stark (Bellevue, WA / Samamish HS) pulled Evergreen to within one, 13-14, on a cross-court kill. Then, Evergreen's season end, on a service error.
Statistically, Evergreen did everything it needed to in order to win their first ever tournament match and advance to the second round of the 2003 Cascade Conference Post-Season tournament. The big three, Short, Lane and Bartley each had double digit kills in the five game match. Plunk dished out her season average, 40 assists. The team had more service aces than errors, 8 to 7. Lane's 4 solo blocks and 4 assist blocks lead the team, who matched Concordia's 12 team blocks.
In the end, it was Concordia's hitting that did in Evergreen. Five Cavalier players recorded double digit kills, a phenomenon that no team has ever accomplished against an Geoduck team.