Battling back-and-forth through four sets, the squads went the distance as the Raiders eventually fended off the visitors for a 3-2 victory: 25-21, 16-25, 25-21, 20-25, 15-12.
Heading into the fifth and final set, momentum seemed to be in favor of the Lancers after they had swarmed the Raiders in Game 4.
“Going into Game 5 I just told them it was up to them and that they needed to show up and play,” Reed coach Kristen Flagtvedt said. “McQueen is a great team. They showed up ready to play and they did a great job. Our thing was just cutting out our mistakes.
“We just had to make sure that we as a team were mentally tough and if we made a mistake, which happens in volleyball, we had to be able to learn from that and just clean up our side of the court every single points.”
It was never more crucial for the Blue and Gold to correct its own miscues than when it spotted McQueen a 7-3 lead in Game 5. Realizing her team was hurting itself more than the opponent was, Flagtvedt called her second and final timeout of the set to get things in order.
“When I called that timeout at 7-3, we talked cutting out our errors because we had just made four straight mistakes. At that point I just tried to tell them that McQueen had gotten the lead because we weren’t mentally tough,” Flagtvedt said. “We had to play each point for what it was worth. We knew that if we kept doing that and played consistent and cleaned up our side, that hopefully we’d be able to come back in the game.”
Out of the timeout, the Raiders looked like a different squad as they rattled off five stright points to surge ahead 8-7. From there the teams fought to a 12-12 tie, but Reed was determined to close out the set and match.
Following a short serve by the Lancers, Reed forced another McQueen error to put the visitors on the brink of defeat. With one last point remaining, Raider Moriah Maluotoga rose high into the air and sent the finisher to the ground as it trickled through the Lancers block attempt.
The Raiders refusal to give up left Flagtvedt pleased with their effort.
“It made me feel really good because when the pressure was on them, they rose to the occasion and did their jobs,” Flagtvedt said. “That makes me feel really good because going into regionals you’re going to face tough teams every match. It’s good to see that we still have that fight and that drive going into regionals. Hopefully that will help us.”
Taylor Stefan helped lead the Raiders to victory with a game-high 44 assists, while also adding 14 digs. Madi Funk led the squad with 13 kills and five blocks. Maluotoga tallied five blocks as well, along with 16 digs, 11 kills and four aces. Emilie Braun finished the night with 11 kills and Kelsey Donohoe recorded 29 digs.
Reed (24-7, 13-2) will now get ready for to play rival Spanish Springs in a match that could very well determine the HDL title. The match is set for 6 p.m. Monday evening.
The Raiders will then close out their regular season Tuesday at home against North Valleys.
In preparation for its faceoff with the Raiders, Spanish Springs visited Hug Thursday and made quick work of the Hawks, sweeping the match 25-12, 25-6, 25-12.
Key for the Cougars in the match was getting playing time for their reserves in order to get ready for the postseason.
“It means a lot to get those girls playing time,” Spanish Springs assistant coach Brandon Leach said. “They come to practice and definitely made our starters a lot better by just getting better everyday themselves. We were able to get a lot of things done tonight.”
In the match, Hannah Meadows handed out 15 assists, while Lyndsey Anderson dealt 12. Brandi Brucato recorded six aces, while Tayler Lodge came in with six digs. In the kills department, Melly Munley led the way with nine alongside five each from Rachel Loadholt and Gabby Szachara.
The victory improved the Purple and Silver to 31-6 overall and 13-1 in the HDL. Spanish Springs closes out its season with a pair of home games, first against Reed on Monday then against McQueen on Tuesday.