Sandy takes on Pendleton at 7 p.m. with a berth in the 5A bracket at stake.
With the end of the regular season imminent, the Sandy volleyball team could have used one last marquee win to bolster its ranking. The Pioneers were hoping to get that win on Senior Night against Wilsonville on October 22, but the Wildcats burst that burble. For the second time this season, Wilsonville earned a four-set win (25-18, 25-20, 20-25, 25-23) over Sandy.
The opening set was the most impressive for the visiting Wildcats. They were brilliant defensively, particularly on Sandy spikes. For the most part, the Pioneers were accurate hitting the ball, but Wilsonville dug out almost everything in the early-going.
The Wildcats converted those digs into excellent scoring chances and went on the offensive. They went on a 7-2 run in the middle of the set to turn a one-point lead into a six-point edge. Sandy got as close as 21-18, but Wilsonville then won the longest rally of the set to spark a 4-0 mini-run to end the game.
Sandy had a prime opportunity to get back in the match in the second set, but let it slip away. The Pioneers took an 18-14 lead, only to see their service game betray them. A few service errors kept a Wilsonville hot streak going and the Wildcats won the set, finishing on an 11-2 run.
It was our worst serving match of the season, and in rally scoring against a good team, you just can't afford to give points away, Sandy coach Chris Meyers said.
In the face of a two-game deficit, Sandy kept battling. The Pioneers fell behind early and Wilsonville looked like it was well on its way to claiming a sweep, but when the Wildcats took an 8-3 lead, Meyers called a timeout.
I just tried to fire them up and get them to play with some energy, Meyers said. I think they realized they weren't giving it their all at the time, and they stepped up their game.
After the timeout, Sandy scored 15 of the next 17 points and took a commanding eight-point lead, which they held all the way.
The fourth set was a war of wills between the Wildcats and Pioneers. Both teams made their share of errors, but both threw everything they had out on the floor. The set saw five lead changes and 11 ties. Wilsonville broke an 18-18 tie with three straight points to take the lead for good.
We outplayed them the entire fourth game, except that we missed six serves in that game alone, Meyers said. I felt we had all the momentum, had them frustrated and were on our way to going to a fifth game. Our serving just didn't cooperate. It is the first time this year that I can say it cost us. We have been a very good, aggressive serving team all year. This night it just didn't happen.
Two days after falling to Wilsonville, Sandy dropped its regular season finale at Putnam, 3-0. The Pioneers finished with a Northwest Oregon Conference record of 6-8, good enough for fifth place. Sandy was ranked No. 15 in the final class 5A RPI rankings, earning the team a home match in a play-in qualifier against Pendleton at 7 p.m. Tuesday.