Knowing a loss would end their postseason chances, the Clear Springs Chargers refused to crumble under the pressure, willing their way to a 25-23, 24-26, 25-17, 24-26, 15-10 win Tuesday against fellow playoff contender Clear Brook.
“I think it shows we’re really mentally tough, and we all work really well together as a team and trust each other,” senior setter Camryn Cadenhead, who powered the Chargers offense with 19 kills, 26 assists and four aces.
Also helping lead Clear Springs to victory were sophomore setter Massiel Coronado’s 36 assists, five aces from senior outside hitter Maddi Goodwin, strong defensive performances by junior libero Hannah Floyd (25 digs) and senior middle blocker Lauren Burt (five blocks).
The win Tuesday puts Clear Springs (6-6 in District 24-6A) into a tie with Clear Brook (6-6) for the district’s fourth and final playoff berth with two 24-6A matches remaining in the regular season.
The Chargers are currently trending upward, winning five of their last seven matches since a 1-4 start to district play, but will need to still keep winning to remain in the playoff race.
“We’re all mixed up together now with Friendswood and Brook and us,” Clear Springs head coach Shannon McClellen said.
“We have to win out, and my kids know that. We know it’s all on us. It’s all in our hands right now, and if we do what we’re supposed to do, we’ll make it to the playoffs.”
Up next for Clear Springs is another crucial match 4:15 p.m. Friday at Friendswood (7-5). A win will not only tie the Chargers with the Lady Mustangs, but also give them the head-to-head tiebreaker advantage over Friendswood.
Clear Springs closes its season Tuesday against Clear Lake (3-9), while Friendswood wraps things up Tuesday at Alvin (0-12).
Clear Brook, which won its first match and holds a total district sets won tiebreaker advantage over Clear Springs, will be favored to win its final two matches of the season, which will be Friday against Alvin and Tuesday at Dickinson (4-8).
In Tuesday’s match, the Wolverines held multiple leads of at least one point in each of the first four sets, but the Chargers were able to battle their way to a winner-take-all fifth set.
In that final frame, Clear Springs jumped out to a 7-2 lead before four straight Clear Brook points made things interesting, but the Chargers never relinquished their lead to seal the win.
“Even when we’re down, like how we started down in all of these sets, we still find a way to push through,” Cadenhead said. “We don’t really let it get to us.”
Clear Springs trailed 9-13 in the opening set, but a 7-0 run sparked the Chargers. Clear Brook was able to regain a solid late lead at 22-20, but Clear Springs closed out the set strong with a 5-1 run.
In the third set, momentum see-sawed back and forth between the two teams, but it was another sizzling finish — this time a 7-2 scoring streak — that put Clear Brook away.
Even in their two set wins, the Wolverines saw huge leads (17-11 in the second set and 19-12 in the fourth set) evaporated by the never-say-die Chargers, but they were able to recover to take the close victories.
James LaCombe is the sports editor of the Galveston County Daily News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org