By MATT REYNOLDS
On Tuesday night Tahlequah High school’s volleyball team played ninth-ranked Coweta on senior night at the TMAC. For three Tahlequah girls (Jayden Littlecheif, Gillian Tinnin and Kalie Champlain), it was their last regular season home game of their high school careers.
Tahlequah and Coweta have grown to be very familiar with each other. They have faced off in three close matches before Tuesday night’s matchup with Tahlequah having won two out of the three matches.
The forth match between the two schools would be the fiercest battle yet with the first set setting the tone for the match as it took Tahlequah an extra eight points to win the set, 33-31. After a tightly-contested second set that Tahlequah won 25-23, Tahlequah finished off the match winning the third in another close battle, 25-23.
“The biggest thing with the team this year is how mentally tough we are,” Tahlequah coach Don Ogden said.
The third and final set of the match tinkered back and forth between Coweta and Tahlequah until Tinnin smacked down a spike off the gymnasium’s floor to make it 24-23. Tinnin then followed it up with another blow to the floor, giving Tahlequah the win in the set and the match.
Tinnin had a stellar finale with 20 kills in three sets.
“We tried to maximize her opportunities,” Ogden said of Tinin. “She had a great night with 20 kills out of 24 attempts.”
Tinnin was not the only one with a standout performance for Tahlequah. Champlain was a big part in Tinnin’s success as she set her up all night and finished with 18 assists. Tahlequah sophomore Amanda Milnick filled up the stat sheet as she has all year with 11 kills and three blocks in the match.
“It was a great win and a great way for our seniors to go out,” Ogden said.
The two teams had jostled all year over a potential chance to host a regional tournament come playoff time. Tahlequah leap-frogged Coweta in the polls this week, landing at eight with Coweta at nine.
Tahlequah needed to jump Coweta in order to host in next week’s regional.
Tahlequah left no doubt after winning three matches to none on Tuesday night and thus winning the regular season series.
The regionals have yet to come out yet officially, but it is very likely that Tahlequah will be hosting in next week’s regionals.
The Lady Tigers will take a 31-7 record into a one-game elimination format in regional play.