No. 10 St. Helens volleyball still in Northwest Oregon Conference elite
The Lions did not lose their cool against Milwaukie on Tuesday in St. Helens.
Instead, they traded the first two sets and outserved the Mustangs 3-1 (26-24, 24-26, 25-17, 25-16) for their third win in a row.
"I liked how my team didn't give up," St. Helens senior setter Kenna Reinholdt said. "We had our down moments but we are always able to put it behind us and unite, working together to get the win we all want."
The Lions (3-2 overall, 3-1 Northwest Oregon Conference) have beaten Milwaukie (0-4, 0-4) in all 15 meetings since the Mustangs came down from Class 6A in 2010.
"We clearly struggled the whole match, but I think what stood out was how we were never out of the fight, St. Helens senior libero Abby Austin said. "No matter how hard Milwaukie was pushing us, we pushed right back and used our outside and right side hitters to our advantage."
St. Helens will set out to match its four-game streak from Sept. 29 to Oct. 8, 2016, at Hillsboro (1-4, 1-3), which the Lions have swept in five of six meetings since the Spartans realigned from Class 6A in 2014, at 6:45 p.m. Thursday.
The Lions are also scheduled to face Class 6A Lakeridge at 8 a.m. in the Lakeridge Tournament on Saturday in Lake Oswego.
St. Helens and Milwaukie tied 24-24 in the first set on Tuesday until a Mustangs shot landed out of bounds down the left side and they got caught up in the middle of the net with a long return.
"I think we could have pulled together as a team more, but once we got out there and had fun with it we really started playing as a team," Lions senior defensive specialist Hannah Stewart said. "We didn't give up and just kept pushing: We showed how we wanted it."
Milwaukie trailed 24-19 in the second set, forced a 24-24 tie with an errant Lions shot and stole the final two points, one with a surprise flip shot over the center of the net, to even the series.
"We had a very rough start," St. Helens sophomore middle blocker Brynn Austin said. "I think we went into the game a little bit in our heads: We had a few good hits throughout the first match, but in the last two we put our hits away. I had a few good kills, Savannah [Moore, a freshman outside hitter] had some and we were being aggressive with our hits."
The Lions built 7-1 and 14-4 leads in the third set and, though Milwaukie pulled to within four at 20-16, Krista Gatten's lean-back shot into the left of Milwaukie's defense sealed a five-point run.
"I liked how our team pushed to get the 'W,' and although we lost one set, we killed it the next game and worked together as a team," said Gatten, a senior middle blocker.
The relaxed Lions jumped out 12-4 in the fourth set and contained the Mustangs, whose serve to short left sailed out of bounds for the final point of the evening.
"We came together as a team once again in the last match and were celebrating big, and we looked more like a team," Austin said.
CLASS 5A VOLLEYBALL TOP 10
1. La Salle Prep (4-0)
2. North Eugene (8-0)
3. Summit (7-1)
4. Ridgeview (4-2)
5. Corvallis (4-2)
6. Pendleton (5-0)
7. Crater (3-1)
8. Bend (4-2)
9. Sandy (4-1)
10. St. Helens (3-2)