Claremore sophomore Ella Irvin (13) tallies a block against Tahlequah on Aug. 20.

Ella Irvin was tired of losing.

Claremore had endured a six-match losing streak without a set win, and though the Lady Zebras already trailed Sand Springs by two sets, she wanted to put up a good fight. Even if they couldn’t win the match, taking at least one set would suffice for the time being.

The sophomore went off in the third set, tallying four aces, three kills and a block to help Claremore overcome a six-point deficit with an 8-2 run and force a 24-all tie.

Unfortunately for Irvin and the Lady Zebras, it wasn’t quite enough.

The Lady Sandites scored the final two points to complete the Thursday night sweep of Claremore – 25-21, 25-20, 26-24.

“I wanted it; I really did,” said Irvin, who also posted two aces and a kill in the second set. “But I know we all gave effort and really wanted it, too. We just all as a team needed to step up because we are missing a lot of our big players and leaders. It’s good to have people step up and play hard.”

Sand Springs (14-12) had several notable performances, including nine kills and two blocks from Sophie Singleton and eight kills and two blocks from Layla Lenex. Jacelyn Smith (seven kills, two aces), Kasidy Holland (six kills), Madison Blaylock (four aces) and Payton Robbins (two kills, two aces) were also among the game-changers for the Lady Sandites.

Makyla Salcido (four kills, three aces) and Abby Dake (four aces) backed Irvin during the comeback effort, but the Lady Zebras (6-21) were still missing two starters – Kinley Williams and Kaitlyn Lane.

Elsewhere, Nicky Parziale made her first appearance after missing three weeks of action, and Jen Boydston suffered a wrist injury during the match.

Regardless of whether those players missed from illness or injury, the holes they left in the depth chart are a major reason for Claremore’s losing streak.

“I’ve lost three of my six starters to injury, COVID or whatever is going on, so we’re just trying to fill gaps and make things happen,” Lady Zebras coach Kim Mabbott said. “We’re trying to do the best we can with what we’ve got. When you get kids pulled out and injured, you’re coming up with a new lineup. It’s just about finding out who works well together. I’m pulling up kids I didn’t think I’d have to pull up. At one point we were down to nine girls for two teams, so they’re playing an entire match before they even play varsity.

“With that, you gotta give them a little bit of grace.”

Claremore plays at Class 5A No. 3 Coweta on Oct. 6.

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