That’s the best way to describe Cottage Grove’s win over North Valley on Tuesday, Sept 7.
From beginning to end, the Lions had their way against the Knights. Led by senior Gracie Arnold, Cottage Grove snagged a 3-0 win in their first game in front of home fans in some time.
As soon as the first whistle blew, the Lions came out hot. They jumped out to an 11-point advantage before the Knights could even score in the first set.
The Knights would rebound by rattling off four straight points but midway through the set when it became Arnold’s turn to serve, she took over.
Arnold’s first two serves resulted in two aces, giving CG a 14-4 lead. Later in the set, she spiked a ball ferociously thru the heart of the Knight defense barely nicking the net in the process that proved to be the final blow of the set. Arnold finished with a game-high seven kills on the day.
CG took the first set convincingly, 25-10.
“Gracie is a really strong player for our team,” Head Coach Abby Ladd said. “She’s very reliable and she does a great job, but she is just one player on our entire team. Even when she gets a great swing it’s because it came from a great set that came from a great dig.”
The Lions kept the momentum going in the second set – this time, led by Izabell Senters. Just like Arnold, Senters’ serves were too much to handle. With each one, she’d change the pace, location, and spin pressuring the Knights’ defense mightily. Senters finished with six aces on the day.
Despite a big lead midway through the second half, the Lions wouldn’t let up. Bodies were all over the hardwood floor and balls were being chased with intention like the score was 0-0. Instead, they’d climbed out to a 14-2 advantage.
“If you would’ve watched us play last season then you’d see that our mental toughness was a huge wall put between us and being successful,” Ladd said. “We’ve come a long way since.”
A pair of Arnold aces grew the lead to 19-4. Later, a Knight’s serve into the net followed by back-to-back Lions aces iced the second set, 25-9.
North Valley got the first point of the third set, their first lead of the match. A few minutes later, they led the set 6-5 until the Lions fired off six straight points led by Senters’ serving yet again. The mini-run energized the CG crowd and forced a Knights timeout.
“We have worked a lot on our serving and Izabell has been a great serving player since she’s been in the program as a freshman,” Ladd said. “Being a good serving team has been a part of our goal and she’s taken it to heart.”
Arnold would go on to shut the door emphatically. Midway through the set when she took over to serve again, she recorded several more aces. She’d go on to finish with nine on the day.
Arnold wouldn’t surrender serving duties until the match point when the Knights scored one last time to end a magnificent serving display.
The Lions would take the set 25-11 to clinch the 3-0 victory.
“We had a great win when you look at the score, but we still could’ve done things better,” Ladd said. “There’s always room for improvement.”
With the win, CG is now 2-0 on the young season. Just two days later, the Lions recorded another 3-0 victory over Klamath Falls to continue their undefeated start.
They were in action once again on Wednesday, Sept. 15 at Hidden Valley high school at 6:30 p.m., past The Sentinel’s press time.