The 2019 season for the Cottage Grove volleyball team didn’t quite end as smoothly as they would have liked.
Beset by injuries over the final few weeks of the season, the Lions (10-11 overall, 6-4 league) dropped their final two games, leaving them in a precarious playoff position.
In their first game of the week, on Tues., Oct. 22, Cottage Grove had a chance to secure a top-two Sky-Em finish - and an automatic playoff bid - with a win over Marist in the final regular season contest. Alas, the Lions couldn’t get the win against their rivals to the north, losing 3-1 (23-25, 25-23, 27-25, 25-23) and placing Cottage Grove in a second-place tie with Marshfield in league play.
“Tuesday’s game was critical against Marist because with a win we would have had second fully to ourselves,” said head coach Kendra Anderson.
With the Spartans winning the regular season league title, the loss set up a tiebreaker game for the Lions against Marshfield to determine the Sky-Em’s second automatic playoff qualifier.
The girls traveled to Siuslaw High School, a neutral site for the two playoff hopefuls, on Thurs., Oct. 24 for this deciding game. Missing standout sophomore Izabell Senters, who is out for the season with a right leg injury, and with fellow sophomore Gracie Arnold still recovering from an injury of her own, the Lions came up just short, losing to the Pirates in five sets for the second time this month, 3-2 (25-19, 17-25, 20-25, 25-20, 15-12).
“Both teams played really well. We missed some serves in the fourth and fifth set … and then we just had a few errors. Errors at the wrong time, I guess,” Anderson said. “We made mistakes that any team can make, we just made them at a time when we couldn’t afford it.”
The win gave Marshfield the coveted second automatic playoff spot and Cottage Grove a further obstacle on their path to the postseason.
Twelve teams throughout the state - the top two from each of the six 4A leagues - automatically qualify for OSAA state playoffs. Eight more teams are chosen based on rankings then seeded according to the standings with the winners earning the final four spots in the round of 16.
Because of their loss to Marist and subsequent defeat at the hands of Marshfield, Cottage Grove became one of the eight at-large playoff teams, setting up a four-five seed matchup against Stayton.
“We played Stayton at the Sisters tournament,” Anderson said. “So it’s just a matter of knowing that we beat them before, we just need to do it again. This is a crucial time to make sure it gets done. We just need to play our game.”
The play-in game against the Eagles was held yesterday. To see results, visit the Lions’ volleyball OSAA page at http://www.osaa.org/teams/28928.