Estacada gets through a tight first set to down Sandy in the season opener

by: ESTACADA NEWS: PARKER LEE - Estacadas MacKenzie Gipple makes a pass into the front row during last weeks home win over Sandy.The volleyball squads from Sandy and Estacada met up on September 3 in the season opener for both teams, but the Rangers looked like they were in mid-season form. Estacada swept the Pioneers 3-0 (25-20, 25-21, 25-7).

The Rangers were efficient and fundamentally sound throughout the match, particularly in their service game. The team served with control and made very few errors, forcing Sandy to make several mistakes in its return game.

“Return of serve is something we haven’t worked on in practice too much, and they served tough,” Sandy coach Chris Meyers said. “They are a great team, they run a great program. This was really good for us to see what we need to work on.”

Senior setter Katie Nation headlined the serving dominance for Estacada. She had six aces in the match, and more importantly, the Rangers took control each time she served. Estacada went on multiple runs with Nation serving, including a 6-0 run to open the third set. Tori Johnson and Jessica Wheeler added four aces each.

Estacada’s solid serving kept Sandy at a distance for most of the match, but the Pioneers did make a few mini-runs in the first two sets to stay close. They had a stretch of four straight points in the opening set to cut a 17-12 deficit to 17-16, but the Rangers responded with a 5-0 run when Wheeler earned the side out with a kill, putting Nation on serve.

Sandy trailed 16-9 in the second set, but junior outside hitter Alex Ford guided the Pioneers to a 7-2 run to narrow the Estacada lead to 18-16. Ford, who had six kills in the set, notched three kills and a block during the run. The Rangers ended the run on a kill by Sarah Davies, one of seven she had in the set. Johnson then delivered spikes and kills on consecutive plays to extend the lead to five points, and Estacada held on from there.

Sandy became visibly dejected after dropping the first two sets, and couldn’t get anything going in the final game.

“After that second set, we lost a little steam,” Meyers said. “We need to work on keeping a positive attitude and staying in it mentally for the entire match.”

The Rangers, almost sensing Sandy’s letdown, pounced right away. They opened up a 6-0 lead and didn’t stop there. Estacada started racking up kills, aces and blocks to jump out to a 17-2 advantage, and the Pioneers had no answer. Even Ford was limited to one kill in the set.

“She was good, so we focused on blocking her. We were able to take her out of it,” Estacada coach Shawna Lippert said. “We finally got in a rhythm in the third set. I didn’t feel like we were playing as a team like we could in the first two sets, but we started to in the third.”

Estacada had eight aces in the third set. Fittingly, the match ended with back-to-back aces from Nation.

The Rangers were paced offensively by Davies who registered a match-high 12 kills, but Johnson was a close second with 11.

Ford led Sandy with 11 kills. Kayla Anderson supplied four kills and three aces for the Pioneers.

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