POWERS — Senior night was extra emotional for the Powers volleyball team on Thursday night.
The Cruisers had an unusually high number of seniors, with six, including the daughter of coach Heather Shorb. Tears flowed freely in the pregame ceremony.
“We’ve been with coach since kindergarten, so it meant a lot,” said Miya Clauson, one of the seniors.
Powers was able to set the emotions aside when it mattered though, and swept visiting Yoncalla to clinch the Skyline League’s South Division title and a spot in next weekend’s district tournament at Grants Pass High School.
There, Powers will have two chances to win a match and advance to the Class 1A playoffs.
“I’m really excited,” Clauson said. “It’s going to be a challenge. We want that state playoff spot.”
Last year, Powers was in the same position but couldn’t get the win it needed at the district tournament.
“We want a different outcome this year,” senior Madison Kamakele said.
The Cruisers avoided a tiebreaker match with Camas Valley and the chance to need a win just to get to the district tournament by beating the Eagles 25-14, 27-25, 25-20.
“I think we did well,” Shorb said. “They came through.
“The second game was close. The third game was close. They battled through it. They were playing mentally tough.”
Yoncalla, which shares last place in the North Division, kept the match tough.
“Yoncalla was relentless,” Shorb said. “They kept picking balls up I thought would drop and they served well.”
Kenzie Walton had seven aces for the Eagles and Cassidy Bragg had four, with the two combining for seven of those aces in the final set.
But Powers battled through, in part because of its own defense and clutch hitting from Kamakele.
The outside hitter finished with a team-best seven kills, including four in the final set, and also had 13 digs and an ace on match point. She helped the Cruisers overcome several three-point deficits in that final set.
Hannah Shorb, another senior, added four kills, including one that set up set point in the tight second set. Senior Brianna Mowe had four aces, including the final points of both the first and second sets. Libero Hannah Ellis, another senior, was solid through the match.
The sixth senior, Kathrynn Pedrick, was on the sideline with a broken wrist that she suffered last week. Her injury came at a potentially critical time, with the Cruisers facing road matches against Camas Valley last Thursday and New Hope on Tuesday, but Powers still won both matches.
“Our whole rotation changed,” Kamakele said.
“There were some bumps, but we pulled through,” added Clauson, giving a lot of credit to freshman Johanna Davis, who “stepped up.”
Davis was big on defense Thursday against Yoncalla, finishing with 10 digs.
Clauson finished with 12 digs, seven assists and two aces and Shorb and Mowe combined for 13 more digs. Junior Hunter Jones had a pair of big kills in the final set.
The seniors were grateful for the vocal home crowd after their final match in the Powers gym.
“We couldn’t do it without our supporters,” Clauson said.