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Oak Ridge loses heartbreaker to Ponderosa in four games

By: Nick Pecoraro/Telegraph Correspondent
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When conference rivals meet, records are thrown out the window, egos are checked at the door and game faces are strapped on. Oak Ridge welcomed Delta River League foe Ponderosa into its house on Tuesday ready for an intense showdown. Intensity is exactly what was on display from both sides of the net as the Lady Bruins bested the Lady Trojans in four exciting games, 25-23, 25-22, 15-25, and 26-24. The fourth and deciding game was a heartbreaker for Oak Ridge. The Lady Trojans seemed to be on their way to forcing a fifth game leading 19-11 when Ponderosa got rolling on an eight-point stretch that tied things up at 19. Back and forth went the points until it was even again at 24. Needing the next two points, Ponderosa gained momentum on the next rally after Lianna Sybledon took a pass from Madison Macauley and ferociously spiked it down to the Oak Ridge floor. The final rally of the match ended when Ponderosa deflected an Oak Ridge attack that was headed for the Ponderosa bench before the Lady Bruins were able to save it over the net just out of reach of a diving Haley Simmons. “It was really tough and surprising to see that last point fall the way that it did,” said Simmons, who stepped up big defensively in the last two games. “We needed to keep the momentum on our side. We let them get a run which ended our chances for a win.” The first two games also went down to the wire. The first game saw Oak Ridge up 23-22 before a couple slight miscues from the Lady Trojans allowed Ponderosa the game. Oak Ridge lost the second game in much of the same fashion. Ponderosa was up 23-22 this time when an ace from Macauley scraped over the top of the net and hit hardwood. The Lady Bruins took the next point to go up two games to none. The Lady Trojans took the third game with outstanding all-around play from senior Katie Vaughn and junior middle blocker Arden Zuber. “It’s frustrating, but that’s just how volleyball goes sometimes,” said Trojan coach Becky Potter, whose squad was unable to exact revenge from an earlier tournament loss to Ponderosa this season. The Lady Trojans were 10-2 in the previous six seasons against Ponderosa. “It’s a fun, healthy rivalry with Ponderosa. We all play with each other in club and in the offseason so it’s tough to lose to them, but at the same time, we can be happy for them,” said Potter.