COTTONWOOD - The Prairie volleyball girls had their hands full with Potlatch Wednesday night, but after Hope Schwartz swept in with a hot two-hander that secured the first set, the Pirates went on to sweep Potlatch 3-0 (30-28, 25-20, 25-23).
"Hope made one of those plays that you can't really teach," coach Julie Schumacher told the Free Press. "She kind of ran over a couple of her teammates, but she read it well and put it where Potlatch couldn't do much with it."
The first game had been tied at least 10 times before Schwartz came over the top of two players with a setter-type move to send the ball past a player in Potlatch's back row. The second game progressed similarly before Prairie scored the last five points in a row, the last of which came by way of a hit by Jade Prigge. Potlatch led the third game by as many as seven, 18-11, before Tara Schlader's kill brought her to the serve line. Prairie took five in a row, mainly by way of Potlatch hitting hard but out of bounds, long.
"The fact that we had to battle back and we did, that was great," Schumacher said. "We didn't give up. I hate to say it, but this has not been a Prairie trait - so it was great to see."
She credited Prairie's front-liners with blocking well, which she felt prompted adjustments from the likes of Potlatch power-hitter Olivia Wise.
Prairie tied the third game, 22-all, on an ace by Schwartz. The Pirates took the lead on a hard hit by Delanie Lockett, which she pounded off of the Potlatch blockers, who sent it out of bounds on their own side. Potlatch tied it again, 23-23, but a serve error made it match point and Prairie set up Madison Shears for the winning kill.
The Pirates didn't know who they would play Thursday night, but having beaten Genesee earlier this season, hoped to return to Genesee for a chance to avenge a 3-0 loss Tuesday night.
"After a bad start, I told the girls that was the worst they had played all season, and after that, they played a lot better," Schumacher said. "The problem was, they were playing it too safe, and Genesee is not a team you can beat with tips and free balls. If you give them those, they will send it right back at you, right down your throat. So we have to hit at them, even if it means we have some mishits - and we have to have plays like the one Hope had tonight, that get at them before they can get set up defensively."
Schumacher also pointed out a play Laney Forsmann made at the net during the second game, on which Potlatch sent one over her a little too softly, which Forsmann read and hammered down hard.
"Laney was a swing player for us most of this season, but she started varsity tonight," she said. "We've been working with her on hitting harder, and on that one she showed what she can do."
The Thursday night game will be at 6 p.m. at Genesee, as Troy won the clash of Whitepine League top-seeds Wednesday night, 3-0 (25-18, 25-19, 25-14)