Madras comes into town and leaves with its first win of the year

by: ESTACADA NEWS: PARKER LEE - Estacadas Tori Johnson sends a kill over the net during Thursdays 3-0 loss to Madras. One run in the fateful first set catapulted the Madras volleyball team to a 3-0 (25-23, 25-22, 25-20) sweep at Estacada on Thursday. The White Buffaloes entered the match winless, but that string of first-game points turned it all around, and the Rangers were on the wrong end.

Madras caught fire mid-way through that first set. Estacada jumped out to an early lead and held a 10-7 advantage. The White Buffaloes then went on a 7-0 scoring run to claim a 14-10 edge. In just a couple minutes, Madras’ attitude went from one of sluggishness to elation. The run forced Estacada to call a timeout to refocus.

After the timeout, the Rangers ended the run and went back on top, but that didn’t matter. Madras had already been instilled with confidence and a belief it would prevail. After a few more lead changes, Madras went up 24-19. Estacada scored four straight points to pull within one, but was called for running into the net on the final game point, and the White Buffaloes escaped with a two-point win in the opening game.

The second set was just as tight and competitive. Similar to the first set, the second was a back-and-forth battle that went down to the wire. Madras again pulled it out to take total control of the match.

“Just when we thought we earned the advantage at the net a few times, the ref came up with a few too many phantom calls,” Estacada coach Shawna Lippert said. “We just didn't get the breaks that night.”

After dropping the first two tight, emotional sets, Estacada appeared deflated and failed to bring the same energy in the final set. In contrast, Madras rode the momentum created by its wins in the first two sets and rolled in the third to earn the sweep in the Tri-Valley Conference opener.

Estacada’s biggest struggle came in its effort to stop Madras outside hitter Shelby Mauritson. The Rangers earnestly tried to block Mauritson, but she hit the ball with power and accuracy throughout the match. Estacada succeeded in blocking her a few times, but not often enough to slow her and the White Buffaloes down.

Jessica Wheeler led the Rangers in digs with 13 and aces with four. Tori Johnson had eight kills and three blocks while Sarah Davies added six kills.

“This was a tough loss being that we beat them badly at the end of our season at home last year,” Lippert said. “The girls enjoyed playing Madras and can't wait to play them again soon.”

The Rangers bounced back with a solid showing at a Saturday tournament in Sisters. They finished third in pool play which put them in the “silver bracket.” There they coasted to victory in all three matches. The three bracket-play wins alone bumped them up 10 spots in the state rankings.

“We ended on a good note,” Lippert said. “So all in all, even though we didn't make it into the gold bracket, we cleaned house in the silver bracket. I think we can feel good about calling it a successful week in Ranger volleyball.”

Estacada got back to league play as it hosted North Marion on Tuesday. The Rangers travel to take on rival Molalla on Thursday at 6:00 p.m.

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