SHAWNEE — Not once during its 29 wins or two losses had the Elgin volleyball team found itself in a match that went to a fifth game.
The first round of the state tournament wasn't exactly the place coach Lindsey Mickley would have wanted her young team to be put in that situation, but she couldn't be happier with how the Owls responded.
Elgin fought off a tough loss in the fourth game to defeat Copan 3-2 (27-25, 20-25, 26-24, 27-29, 15-11) in the first-round match of the Class 4A state tournament at Shawnee High School.
“These girls are young, and this is all new to them,” Mickley said. “We pushed ourselves as hard as we could in the first round, so hopefully the second round, things start to fall into place.”
Elgin (30-2) is at the state tournament for the first time since 1993, and will get a stiff test in Saturday's noon semifinal against defending champion Cache.
But the value of Friday's win will pay off well beyond this season for Elgin, which starts only one senior.
“This is a young group, and I told all of them to work hard for the seniors,” Mickley said. “There were a lot of clutch moments. That fifth game makes all the difference. For them to get to that and still hold their composure — I'm so proud of them.”
OCS FALLS IN OPENER
For a team making its first appearance at the state tournament in program history, Oklahoma Christian School represented itself well, but top-ranked Cache had too much firepower.
The defending champion Bulldogs won 3-0 on the strength of seniors Madison Ward and Talia Stanley, overcoming a slow start to advance to Saturday's semifinals.
“There were some nerves I think, emotions and nerves,” Cache coach Stephanie Dilks said. “We've got five seniors, and they're thinking it could be your last game any day.
“We're very happy to have that behind us. The first game at state is always the most nerve-wracking.”
Dilks' shot at a repeat state title with Cache could include a family battle. Her mother, Donna Dilks, is the head coach at Big Pasture, which defeated Okay 3-0 on Friday.
Mother and daughter could potentially meet in Saturday's championship match. Cache faces Elgin in the semifinals, and Big Pasture takes on Lincoln Christian, which eliminated Oklahoma Union on Friday.
TITLE MATCH TO AIR LIVE ONLINE
Saturday's Class 4A state championship match will be broadcast live online at www.foxsportssouthwest.com, the OSSAA announced Friday.
The match is tentatively scheduled for 3:45 p.m., following the two semifinal matches set for noon and 1:45 p.m.
Next week, the Class 5A and 6A championship matches in Claremore will also be streamed live on the website. The 5A match is set to begin at 5:15 p.m. on Oct. 15, with the 6A match to follow.