On the largest possible stage the Northern League could provide, tension lingered in the air at Thompson Valley High School as fans from both sides jumped, hollered and portrayed their emotions after every point.
Heading into the high-stakes ma
tch with the second-best record in the conference, Thursday granted TV a shot at redemption and an opportunity to claim a share of the Northern League title as it faced Silver Creek.
Casey Holder’s squad entered the clash having won six straight –– four of which in sweeping fashion. Silver Creek traveled to Loveland boasting an unblemished 13-0 conference record while the Raptors represented the last team to beat the 16-6 (12-1) Eagles.
Silver Creek battled both a noisy environment and hungry Eagles group before prevailing once again –– defeating TV 3-0 to claim the league’s throne for the first time in program history.
“It feels amazing,” Raptors’ head coach John Miller said. “Total team effort tonight. We knew what we had to do, and we did it. Thompson Valley was scrappy. They played their hearts out. We just played great volleyball from the beginning of the match to the end. We kept good energy and we believed in ourselves.”
Though the final score indicates a stress-free showing for Silver Creek, Sydney Laws and TV put forth a feisty performance and nearly came away with every set –– despite losing key blocker Emily Rollins to an ankle injury early on.
The Eagles lost the trio of sets by a combined nine points and, in the end, slow starts doomed the home team.
While reasonably experiencing some nerves on senior night, TV got off on the wrong foot in the opening segment –– digging themselves an 8-2 hole.
“It’s always hard to dig yourself a hole and then have to battle back out of it,” Holder said. “I think it was just a lot of game jitters tonight. It took a couple of points and then we were like okay, now we can play our game.”
Allowing the Raptors to achieve their rhythm immediately may have proved detrimental, but the Eagles surely did not go down without a fight.
Trailing 11-4, there came the gritty Eagles –– manufacturing a run of their own to seize a 16-14 edge behind a powerful Sydnee Durtsche ace.
After dropping the set 25-21, a similar story ensued as TV faced an 8-2 deficit in the next chapter. However, this time, TV stormed back with added authority –– assembling a 5-0 run to pull ahead 21-18.
One point away from evening the match score at one, Silver Creek’s Megan Sotiroff –– who carried the Raptors all evening –– slammed a big-time kill to tie the set at 24. The sophomore then pulverized the ball across the court to give her team a 26-25 lead before a TV attack error settled the extended frame. Once more, the initial faltering was too much for the Eagles to overcome.
Rather than needing to assemble a comeback, the final set went back-and-forth while Silver Creek began smelling victory. Fittingly, Sotiroff furnished the final kill –– banging the ball out of a TV’s reach for a 25-22 decision.
“We got a lot better as the night went on, and due to our chemistry and our ability, we definitely earned the title,” the outside hitter said.
Though the outcome didn’t play out favorably, Holder and TV now knows what it must focus on while preparing for regionals –– “being the first (team) to five” and “learning how to finish.”
With a concise plan in mind following a courageous effort, TV’s confidence remains intact as it gears up for the challenge ahead.
“We really worked hard, especially with our middle going down early,” Holder said. “I feel like they did really well just with the whole adversity that happened. They stayed up and stayed positive and just kept fighting through it. I’m proud of them for that.”