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In the first round of playoff action, the Cougars fell to Barlow in a shootout at home.

HERALD PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - The Canby Cougars before their playoff match against the visiting Barlow Bruins. The Cougars would lose 3-2 on Wednesday Oct. 25. Heading into the first round of playoffs, Canby was ranked at number 15, and the visiting Barlow Bruins were the 18th seed. After five rounds of back and forth action, there was an upset. The Cougars fell to the Bruins three sets to two, with scores of 24-26, 25-21, 23-25, 25-22, and 11-15.

HERALD PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - The Barlow Bruins before their match with Canby Cougars. The Bruins would defeat the Cougars three sets to two. The first set saw both teams establish their own momentums, with Barlow grabbing an early lead, only to have Canby steal it away for a majority of the set. However, the Bruins stalled Canby out at 15 points and tied it up. Though the Cougars fought back, kills from Barlow junior Josie Carlson and senior Megan Sester were among the deciding factors towards the end of the set. HERALD PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Barlow senior Megan Sester goes up for a kill against Canby. The Bruins defeated the Cougars 3-2 on Oct. 25 in the first round of the playoffs.

The second set saw Barlow jump out to 3-8 lead, and the Cougars battling back from the deficit. Cougars senior Sam Fossati and freshman Daley McClellan had some points early on that turned the tide. It was not easy for Canby, but after tying the game up at every number between 11 and 18, they found themselves in the lead. All tied up at 18, the Cougars very nearly had the point go the other way if not for a diving Canby senior Diana Krishchenko save. From there, they went on a 6-2 run to finish the set 25-21.

"When we were hitting, the people who weren't hitting the ball helped us see the court, tell us where to hit the ball," McClellan said. "That really helped the hitters, and we had a lot of fun."

The third set was the inverse of the second. Canby raced out to an early 5-0 lead, and at one point 10-4. But Barlow bounced back, tying the game up at 16 all, and after Barlow freshman Samantha Pemberton put one away on the serve, they took the lead. The Bruins held off a resilient Canby offensive to win the set 23-25.

"I finally saw us working together, and we were getting to the point where we were peaking at the perfect time," Barlow senior Autumn Wilson said. "We have such a talented team, and we all started to become one giant unit. It all lit up."

In the fourth set, neither team really blew out the other at any point. Barlow started off with the lead, but Canby was never more than two points behind, and kills from Canby sophomore Ruby Kayser and freshman Audra Wilmes kept the game tight. Ultimately, Canby would pull ahead as the game was tied up at 14-14, and only relinquish the lead one time more in the fourth set. Toward the end of the set, Canby pulled away, establishing a four point lead, and winning the set on Barlow serve out of bounds.

HERALD PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Canby senior Diana Krishchenko goes up to spike the ball onto the Barlow side of the court. Canby lost to the visiting Bruins in the first round of the playoffs on Oct. 25. The final set saw the largest comeback of the game. Canby fell behind to a 3-10 deficit, but went on a 7-1 run to keep the game tight. Krishchenko had two kills in that streak, and the home team appeared to have comeback. But the Bruins quashed it, and won the final frame 15-11.

"I'm glad that we had the perseverance to push through the games to do what needed to be done," Barlow junior Josie Carlson said.

"We fought so hard," Canby's Fossati said. "We knew it could be the last game we played and we went all out. The last (set) we got a little tight and gave them some points, but we definitely came back and fought with what we had."

After the game, it was a time of celebration for the victors, who withstood every momentum shift to move on in the playoff bracket.

"Overall that's probably one of the best games we've played," Barlow head coach Jessie Mott said after the game. "Defensively, mentally tough, all of those things, they're a great, amazing team and I'm proud of my girls for coming out and competing and being strong. There were many times when we had a run, and they had a run, and both teams kept coming back every single point. That was probably one of the best games I've been a part of for a while."

For Canby, the feeling was one of disappointment.

"I knew they were a really good team," Canby head coach TJ Schlatter said. "I was not happy with that draw because I knew they were good, and I knew we were going to have to play well to win. I thought we played well, we just didn't play well enough."

"We're a bunch of freshman and sophomores with a couple seniors, and they're nearly all seniors. I think the experience of playing in that kind of stressful situation and being able to still perform under that kind of stress and still compete is a great learning lesson for these guys. It's the biggest game some of them have played in," Schlatter added.

Canby ends their season 16-8 overall, 12-4 in Three Rivers League play. Barlow moves on to the next stage of the state playoffs against the number two ranked Central Catholic team.

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