Lady Bucs rally to Aurora Conference title

By Tony Gorman

The Valdez High School Volleyball team punched its ticket to Wasilla over the weekend.  The Lady Bucs rallied from a two-game deficit in the championship match to defeat Monroe Catholic, 3-2 (14-25, 23-25, 25-17, 25-13, 15-8) for the Aurora Conference title and a spot in the State Tournament. During an interview on KCHU’s “Coffee Break: Sports Edition” on Monday, Lady Bucs Cassie Carey said she didn’t expect the slow start.  She said she never thought her team was going to lose.   “That’s what it’s all about,” said Carey.  “It was super fun.  Coming back the way we did made it more fulfilling in the end.”

After enjoying a bye on the first day, Valdez took the court against Hutchison.  Mikaela Hill was 9 for 9 on serves with 3 aces, 9 kills, 9 digs, and 3 blocks and Sidne Mann went 14 for 14 on serves with 2 aces, 11 kills, 10 set assists, and 2 digs as the Lady bucs had no problem grounding the Lady Hawks, 3-0 (25-15, 25-12, 25-12).  Holly Wells put stellar defensive performance with 15 digs. Gretchen Kuchin added 2 aces and 16 digs.

Later that night, Valdez came out flat against Monroe Catholic.  “They were definitely nervous,” Carey said of her team during the first game.  “Monroe was playing on their home court.  It was loudest gym we’ve ever played in.”  The Lady Bucs would drop the first match, 14-25.

Valdez slowly gained momentum in the second.  At one point in the game, the team was leading.  The Lady Buc would fall short, 23-25.  Carey said her team didn’t think it was finish despite facing elimination.  “It was much closer,” Carey said.  “It kind of what made us feel realize that we’re back into this.  We can play and let the game settle down a little bit and the game take care of itself.  And that’s what they did.”

Valdez’s backrow defense kept the team alive in the third game en route to a 25-17 win.  The Lady Bucs would carry that momentum into the fourth game and routed the Lady Rams, 25-13.  Valdez go on to take the pivotal fifth game, 15-8, to clinch a spot in the State Tournament. 

Mann finished the match with 25 kills and 7 ace tips.  MacDonald had 17 digs, 40 set assists, and 2 aces.  Hill chipped in four aces, 13 kills, and 7 blocks. 

Awards

All Aurora Conference Team-Sidne Mann, Holly Wells, Gretchen Kuchin, Mikaela Hill, and Rachel MacDonald

Aurora Conference Most Valuable Player-Sidne Mann

Aurora Conference Coach of the Year-Cassie Carey

Valdez will face Petersburg in the first round of the State Tournament.  The Lady Vikings finished runner-up in the Southeast Conference and is one of the few teams in the tournament that the Lady Bucs did not face during the regular season.  Carey said she doesn’t know much about Petersburg, but her team will be ready to go.  “I sometimes feel like I can sit back on the bench and enjoy the game and let them take care of business,” Carey said.  “They’re doing awesome and it’s so fun.  I’m so proud to be a part of something so cool.  I’m just thinking these girls are having the time of their lives.  Hopefully, these will be the memories they will never forget.” 

Valdez will face Petersburg on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at the Menard Sports Complex in Wasilla.  The State Tournament is from Thursday to Saturday.

 

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