By Ronn Rowland
Phoenix Sports Writer
CHICKASHA – What started out looking like a berth in the Class 4A volleyball finals for the Okay Lady Mustangs turned into a nightmare as they fell to the Cache Lady Bulldogs 3-2 in one semifinal match at the Chickasha High School Events Center on Saturday.
After capturing the first two sets by scores of 25-22 and 25-23, Okay (29-4) saw Cache (29-7) come roaring back to take the last three sets 25-12, 25-16 and 15-2 and end the Lady Mustangs 13-match winning streak.
“I told the girls you have to bring your “A” game every point, every set,” said Okay coach Belinda Clark. “We just lost the match mentally. We weren’t focused after we won the first two sets and (Cache) got us.”
With the win, Cache will face Elgin for the sixth time this season in the finals. Elgin (32-0) advanced to the championship match with a 3-1 win over Verdigris.
The loss also ends the career at Okay for Bristen Graves, the two-time All-Phoenix MVP. Graves finished the match leading Okay with 15 kills but also committed 14 errors which she pointed to as one of the reasons for the loss.
“I just kept missing my passes,” she said. “They kept hitting it to me when I was in the back and I couldn’t pass.”
The first set was a struggle for both teams but it was Okay that prevailed. The Lady Mustangs fell behind 8-6 but went on a 10-2 run to grab a 16-10 advantage. Okay would only surrender six more points in the set for the 25-22 win.
Set two started off with the Lady Mustangs taking an early four-point advantage. Cache eventually grabbed the lead and looked in control of the set at 22-19. However, Graves took it upon herself to capture the set by registering five kills and one block to give her team a 2-0 advantage.
“We just lost the match mentally,” Clark said. “The first two sets we were on top of our game and very excited. But Cache brought their game to the third set and showed they were ready to duke it out.”
The third set was all Cache as it took command early, racing out to a 7-0 lead. Okay would get no closer than four (9-5) before the Lady Bulldogs pulled away with a 25-12 win.
The fourth set was a back-and-forth affair with the two teams trading two-point leads until Cache, trailing 6-5, went on a 9-1 run to open up a 14-7 advantage. The Lady Bulldogs would eventually stretch their lead to 10 points ( before closing out the set 25-16.
Okay was never in the final set as Cache, the 2010 Class 4A champions, scored the first nine points of the set and ran away, taking the match with the 15-2 win in the set.
“I will look back on this year and be so proud,” Graves said. “We accomplished a lot. We got to the semifinals and that says a lot about this team. We just came up one match short.”
Class 4A state
Semifinal: Elgin 3, Verdigris 1
Semifinal: Cache 3, Okay 2
Championship, Elgin 3, Cache 1