TOWER CITY â€” As the crowd packed into Maple Valley High School for Monday night's match between the Raiders and defending champion Central Cass, The stage seemed set for a big match.
There was a packed crowd, covered in pink for breast cancer awareness month, with students and parents from both sides, and a Maple Valley team that held its own earlier this year with the Squirrels.
But Maple Valley struggled to get much momentum, which allowed Central Cass to go on big runs and get a 25-11,25-13, 25-17 win in the Raiders' last home match of the year.
"It seemed like the balls just didn't fall our way," said Maple Valley coach Jessica Theurer, who was pleased with aspects of her team's game.
It was a match in which the sets were played close early, but with a few defensive struggles here, a couple of missed hits there, the Squirrels found late breaks to run away with it.
In the opening set, Cass scored six of the first seven points, getting kills from four different players.
Though Rylee Nudell helped work the Raiders back within three points, that was as close as it got. Later on, after Megan Kasowski had a kill to make it 13-10, the Squirrels found their groove and scored 11 straight points to make it 24-10.
A lift call ended the set and a tip by Macie Romsdal put it away.
The second set started similarly. Maple Valley scored the first point. Central Cass then made it 5-1 before Maple Valley tied it up, but another quick run made the Raiders work back from a 9-5 deficit.
Though they had the lead narrowed as low as 11-11, Central Cass had a four point run to make it 15-10. Maple Valley then scored on a long kill before Cass scored three more.
After a Maple Valley point made it 18-12, the Squirrels scored seven of the last eight points, ending the match on a kill by Wieland.
The final set was more of the same, with Maple Valley falling behind 7-4 early and unable to narrow the difference.
Theurer credited Central Cass with putting its tough blockers in Rylee Nudell's face, which limited the Raiders offense at times.
Theurer also said her team's strategy was a bit thrown off by the absense of Cass middle hitter Faith Dooley, who has been out with a concussion.
"We weren't sure if she was going to be here or not, so when we planned for the game, so when we planned for the game, we planned for her just in case," she said. "So it kind of threw us off."
The Raiders have one remaining game in the regular season before the District 2 tournament. They play at North Sargent high school Monday.
Theurer said she isn't worried about the loss getting her team down.
"These girls take everything day-by-day and they're good about that," she said.