1A volleyball — Having established some continuity, CSLA preps for difficult close to the season

Finishing a two-week period during which it has had time to develop a sense of identity and establish some continuity against relatively weak competition, C.S. Lewis is ready to test itself against the best teams in the Casco League and make a push for the district playoffs.

The Watchmen ran their current winning streak to seven games, all of which have been sweeps, by downing Crosshill Christian, Hood River Christian and Jewell in the past week.

After dealing with injuries, including to star player Mikaela Raudsepp, and adjusting to life under first-year head coach Vince Swagerty during a slow start to the season, the recent stretch also allowed C.S. Lewis to work its way back up the standings.

“To have the luxury of putting a lineup on the floor that is virtually the same match after match has really made a difference for us,” Swagerty said. “I think that’s something that we’re starting to reap the benefit when we’re in practice and are able to work specifically on defense and rotations and all of those pieces.”

The Watchmen dispatched Crosshill Christian 25-15, 25-23, 25-4 Oct. 1, went out of league to beat Hood River Christian 25-10, 25-6, 25-9 Oct. 3 and blasted Jewell 25-14, 25-15, 25-7 at home Monday.

Raudsepp was just about unstoppable in the first two sets versus the Blue Jays, recording 21 kills on 25 attempts.

The Watchmen now sit in fifth place in the Casco League at 4-5, but beginning with Tuesday’s match versus fourth-place Veritas (results unavailable at press time), Swagerty’s squad will play the four teams above it in the standings five times in its last seven games.

Despite throttling Falls City and Jewell in recent match ups, the Watchmen have ground to make up after losing to both sixth-place Falls City and eighth-place Jewell early in the season.

If the remaining games play out according to the current standings, the Mountaineers will overtake the Watchmen for the fifth and final district playoff berth. But if C.S. Lewis either manages a victory over the Vanguard or knocks off either St. Paul, Country Christian or Perrydale, it will finish in a tie with Falls City at 7-9 in conference play. A win over Veritas and an upset over one of the top three teams would just about assure C.S. Lewis of a playoff spot.

“I’m glad it’s happening now because it’s given us a chance to develop as a team, so when we face those teams, we’re not doing it at a point in time in which we’re still struggling with ‘who are we?’ and ‘are we healthy?’” Swagerty said. “Either we’ve got it or we don’t got it, but now we have a chance to find out.”

It will be an interesting to see how the better teams in the league, like St. Paul on Thursday, choose to approach defending and attacking against Raudsepp now that they’ve had time to prepare for her.

“When our team is all together and healthy, I feel like we’re in a position where we can compete with anybody in our league. Anybody,” Swagerty said. “If you put me in a one-match situation with someone and say win this one or go home, I don’t mind my chances in that world. Who wants to face a 6-2 girl who knows how to play the game and a team around her that is just getting better and better and better?”

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