Tough loss stings Lakewood volleyball

The Lakewood Cougars volleyball team had plenty of chances to win their Oct. 16 match with the Granite Falls Tigers. They held leads in all five games but could not finish off their opponents when Granite was vulnerable. After staging a remarkable comeback to level the set score 2-2, the Cougars fell in five sets 24-26, 24-26, 25-19, 25-18, 8-15.
The first set was an absolute killer for the Cougars. They led at the end 24-19, serving for the win. A Liliya Kibitskaya kill was ruled in by the line judge, but overruled by the referee. Instead of winning the set outright Lakewood was ahead 24-20. Granite Falls then went on a six-point run and Lakewood could not stop them.
In game two Kibitskaya got the team off to a big start again, serving Lakewood to a 5-1 lead. Jocelyn Shafer served four points for the Cougars to keep them in the lead at 12-8. Granite went on another run to jump ahead 18-14 but an Amanda Gregory block cooled them off and got Lakewood back on track. Trailing 17-19 the Cougars got an amazing dig save by setter Peyton Mizell which they turned into a point. Two kills from Aly Stewart later they were back in front 20-19. At 23-23 Lakewood got a huge kill from Tawnya Hulslander to give themselves another game point but again Granite answered with three straight putaways so sneak away with another game.
Game three was all Lakewood. Several impressive kills from Stewart got them off on the right foot and Hulslander made certain on a block that Granite would not be coming back in the game. Leading 22-17 the Cougars got two more kills from Stewart and a dual block from Gregory and Stewart slammed home the game winning point.
In game four Kibitskaya took over, serving aces, diving for digs in the back row, even coming up with an early mid-court kill to lead 5-3. Kibitskaya answered the call again on a set from Mizell, crushing home a winning spike after a lengthy rally for a 8-5 lead. Kibitskaya continued her offensive onslaught and the team got some solid blocking up front from Hulslander and Gregory to go ahead 18-13. Juliet Dvorak crushed another Cougar kill as Lakewood slowly advanced their lead. Dvoraks second big kill of the set gave them a 22-15 edge. Some mistakes by the Tigers were all that the Cougars needed to close out a 25-18 win and a 2-2 set score.
It was a tremendous comeback considering the disappointment of the first two sets. The Cougars looked primed for a fifth set victory, all the momentum was going their way. But Granite Falls would not go away without a fight. Two Kibitskaya blocks put Lakewood in front 2-0 in the final set. But suddenly the Cougars went cold. They lost five straight points before a Kibitskaya kill put them back within 3-5. The crowd sensed trouble as the team looked tense. A Gregory kill brought the Cougars within 6-9 but the Tigers rattled off three straight points to take a commanding 12-6 lead. Gregory added a nice block to pull within 7-13 but Lakewood simply ran out of gas.
The defeat stung for a number of reasons. Lakewood has not beaten Granite in more than six years. They gave the Tigers a tough match at Granite this year, losing 3-1 in a well-played game. This time they had all the opportunity in the world to slay the Tigers but could not deliver at crucial moments.
Coach Monica Rooney was understandably frustrated afterwards.
We played well in games one and two, she said, but we let down. We had our chances and we should have won but we didnt take care of business.
For the Cougars Aly Stewart finished with 10 kills, three solo blocks, and nine block assists. Peyton Mizell recorded 21 assists and was 10 for 10 serving. Kibitskaya played another solid all-around game with 13 kills, 11 digs, and eight blocks. Individually the Cougars did a lot of things right the entire match. They just could not capitalize when they had the opportunity.
We didnt finish, said Rooney. Thats the bottom line.
The Cougars play again Oct. 25 against South Whidbey.

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