Cache stays alive at state volleyball
CHOCTAW "We didn't come this far to only come this far." That's the message on the Cache volleyball State T-shirts.
After suffering several one-and-done's in the State tournament, including a quarterfinal exit in last year's tournament, No. 6 Cache (27-6) clung to its inspirational sentiment and dug out a thrilling five set victory, 3-2 (22-25, 25-22, 25-16, 22-25, 17-15) over No. 5 Rejoice Christian (Owasso) (23-10) Friday afternoon at Choctaw High School.
With Cache finally bucking the trend and making it past the quarterfinals, the Bulldogs get a date with defending state champion Christian Heritage (Del City) today at 12:30 p.m. in the State 4A semifinals at Choctaw High School. Should Cache win again, it would play in the State 4A championship game tonight at 6:30 p.m.
Tied at two sets apiece in the fifth set, Cache dug deep and fought off match point multiple times to squeak out a 17-15 victory to advance to the semis.
"We came here for a reason," Cache coach Tara Wells said. "Now we're starting a trend. We're not done. We're going all the way this time."
It must've been the desperation sinking in because both Cache and Rejoice Christian looked unstoppable attacking in side-out. The teams exchanged emphatic kills back-and-forth as the fifth set was tied an astounding eight times at 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14 and 15. Rejoice Christian hit .278, but Cache saved its most efficient attack for last as the Bulldogs hit a staggering .412 in the fifth set.
The clock nearly struck midnight on Cache following a Rejoice Christian ace to give the Eagles match point and a 14-12 lead.
After a Cache timeout, senior outside hitter Jordan Birgenheier got a kill past the RC block before the Cache defense stepped up with a critical block at the net to tie the game once again at 14-14. Cache didn't stiffen up with its season on the line. The team went out and simply played volleyball.
"It's something we worked on all year just leaving it all on the floor," Wells said. "Volleyball is a game of runs so we don't give up. We play point for point and with heart and whoever wants it the most is going to win it at the end."
Just like that, the momentum had changed much of it thanks to the large Cache contingent on hand including a lively student section to motivate the Bulldogs.
"Everyone else believing that we could do it made us 10 times better," junior Mariah Simpson said. "It felt like we had the entire school behind us."
"Our student section was so into it and helped out a lot," echoed Cache sophomore Rachel Altic, who had multiple big kills down the stretch. "We played for the person next to us not ourselves."
Birgenheier got a side-out kill, but the Eagles answered to tie it once more at 15-all.
Unlike in the first and fourth set when late leads slipped away, this time Cache slammed the door shut. Following a RC service error, Altic delivered an ace to win it, 17-15, and the celebration was on.
"When we won, I was like, 'Wow, we just did that,'" Altic said. "I feel like all this confidence is going to ride into tomorrow."