When Tahlequah and Coweta squared off in the volleyball regional final game Tuesday night, the gym was rocking when fans and students stood to their feet and supported their teams the entire match.
“It was a great environment to play in,” Tahlequah head coach Don Ogden said after the game.
It was an emotional match, but Tahlequah prevailed in the end to win the match three sets to two.
Tahlequah won the second set 26-24, the third 25-20, and the fifth set 15-11 over Coweta, sending Tahlequah to the state tournament for the first time since 2009.
“We knew it was going to be a grind. I am just so proud of our seniors to get the win and head to the state tournament; I couldn’t be prouder,” said Ogden.
In the fifth and final set, Tahlequah fell behind 7-2 to Coweta.
“This group has just continued to have great mental toughness, they battle back through anything,” said Ogden.
Tahlequah fought to get it to a 10-10 tie and never looked back.
The Lady Tigers went on to win the final set with explosive spikes by Amanda Milnick and Gillian Trinnen.
The match was the hardest-fought match Tahlequah had to endure all year, as they dropped the first set to Coweta 25-22.
Tahlequah’s Milnick came up with some important spikes to get the Lady Tigers back in the competition, and Tahlequah scored four straight points to take the lead. Tahlequah’s Allie George made a save with the score knotted at 24 to get it to game point for Tahlequah.
The Lady Tigers then took a huge block by Trinnen to win the set 26-24 over Coweta. Tahlequah had the momentum heading into the third set, and used it to their advantage.
Tahlequah fell behind as they had in each of the previous sets, but battled back, scoring nine straight points after trailing 17-13 to take command of the set and get the victory 25-20 against Coweta.
When Coweta looked down and out, coming off back-to-back losses in sets two and three, they were able to come back in the forth set and rallied behind the play of junior Bekah Marks, who did everything Coweta needed in the fourth set.
Coweta took the wind from Tahlequah’s sails in and won the fourth set 25-15.
The first game of the volleyball regional at Tahlequah featured the top-seeded Tahlequah Lady Tigers against the fourth-seeded McAlester Lady Buffaloes.
The Lady Tigers faced little trouble against McAlester, beating them in three straight sets: 25-8, 25-8, and 25-15
“The biggest thing was to get through this game so that we could play for all the marbles in the championship,” THS coach Don Ogden said.
The Lady Tigers were led to victory by Amanda Milnick, who had 10 kills and two blocks in the game. Milnick received help from Katie Schnider, who had five kills; and Gillian Trinnen, who also had five kills on the night.
In the second game of the night Tuesday, Coweta took on Skiatook and won in three straight sets: 25-17, 25-20, and 25-22.
“It was super fun,” Coweta coach Ian Bullen said after the game. “Skiatook always plays us tough. It was nice to beat them in three straight sets.”
Coweta’s victory ultimately advanced them to the championship against Tahlequah. Tahlequah will play Friday, Oct. 18, at Sand Springs in the first round of the state tournament.
Their opponent is not known yet. This Lady Tigers volleyball team is just the second in school history – the first being the 2009 team – to reach the state tournament.