The reaction on the faces of the Cox boys volleyball team when the game’s final ball hit the ground in Wednesday’s 6A state quarterfinals didn’t suggest they had just swept Grassfield 3-0.
Cox won handily (25-19, 25-22, 25-19), but the Falcons remained even-keeled following a performance that wasn’t up to their standards. They celebrated a berth in the state semifinals but understood they could have played better.
Falcons coach Jason Zuidema was proud of his group’s ability to win when they didn’t play their best.
“When we let up and made some mistakes, they were right there to take some points from us, so they kept it tight,” Zuidema said. “It shows that we’ve got to be a little more focused.”
Brad Creamer finished with 13 kills, 14 assists and five blocks. Jake Gibbs added 12 kills, Tyler Gooch had four kills and three aces, and Devin Flaherty led the team with 17 assists.
It was another all-around team effort for the Falcons but not one of their finest.
“We definitely have some work to do, and things to improve on, but we’ll get there,” Gibbs said. “It’s the little things we need to get together.”
On paper, Grassfield’s final scores in each set indicate a closer game than what unfolded. Of their 60 points, only 21 came from kills, aces or blocks. The majority of the rest resulted from Falcons mistakes, such as bad serves, out-of-bounds hits or being misaligned before serves.
“We need to be more consistent so we don’t let teams back at us when we make mistakes,” Zuidema said. “We have to keep pushing.”
A 3-0 victory in a state quarterfinals match might get other teams riled up, but the defending state champions know there’s much more volleyball to be played.
Gibbs and Creamer are the only returning starters from last year’s title run. The seniors continue to stress how crucial it is for the Falcons to not get ahead of themselves.
“We can’t get overconfident,” Gibbs said. “We’re winning and doing good, but we know nothing is given to us. We’re still going to come in early every day, prepare and go out and try to practice like we play — like coach tells us all the time.”
Cox will travel to James River in Richmond on Tuesday for the state semifinals.