By Scott Emigh
Just four days after the Sapulpa football team suffered a 53-26 defeat at the hands of their archrivals, the volleyball team found themselves in a similar position Tuesday night.
Down 10-1 in the first set of a Highway 97 rivalry matchup at Sand Springs, the Chieftains could have counted themselves out, but instead, they surged back with a seven-point streak to make it competitive. And even when the Sandites ultimately won the first set 25-20, the Chieftains didn’t let it get them down. They stayed focused and rallied to win the next three.
“I think Sapulpa and Corey (Harp) just did a really good job,” said Sandite head coach Derek Jackon after the game. “The Heard sisters played really well, both offensively and defensively.”
Stailee Heard, a 5’11” junior, led the Chieftains offensively with 13 kills, as well as three blocks and three aces, while 6’0” sophomore Tyla Heard added eight kills and two blocks.
Even with all that firepower, it was a close match and the Chieftains trailed late in each of the last three sets
Down 24-23 in game two, they scored three straight points for the win on Sandite errors.
In game three Amauri Pratt served two aces and Hoey scored a block and a kill en route to a 5-0 start, and the Chieftains held that margin till 19-14 when the Sandites’ Kasidy Holland kicked off a six-point run for the lead. Down 22-20, Tyla Heard scored a kill to get the visitors back on track, and Sapulpa won 25-23.
It looked like Sand Springs might tie things up in game four after a pair of Chieftain errors put them up 23-21, but this time it was Stailee Heard’s time to shine, scoring a kill to launch a 4-0 run, and capping the 25-23 win with an ace.
5’10” uncommitted senior Ryann Hoey was the heart and soul of the Chieftains, scoring 11 kills with two blocks, two aces, and countless impressive digs while firing up her team at every opportunity with energetic cheers and unbridled passion.
Sapulpa, ranked No. 5 in Class 5A is 12-9 on the season after falling 3-0 to 6A No. 5 Jenks (8-1) on Thursday. They are 2-2 in Frontier Valley Conference action, having beaten Muskogee 3-0 last week to snap a 15-game conference losing streak dating back to 2019.
Last season saw a successful 18-15 outing that was one win shy of matching their win total for the previous five seasons combined. They even won a Regional Championship and made a State Tournament appearance, despite not winning any conference matches. With two conference wins already under their belts this year, it’s safe to say the Chieftains are aiming for even greater heights.