Tualatin aims to keep getting better as postseason nears

by: DAN BROOD - TEAMWORK --Tualatin's (from left) Haley Howarth, Sara Fanger, Beth Fanter, Katie Savage, Tegan Bracha and Morgan McMasters celebrate after scoring a point in last week's match at Century.HILLSBORO — For the Tualatin High School volleyball team, it’s all about learning.

Even at this point in the season, the youthful Timberwolf squad says it’s still acquiring skills and knowledge that it hopes will make it better.

Tualatin says it definitely learned a thing or two in last week’s match at Century. And the Timberwolves are looking to benefit from that as postseason play nears.

Tualatin, which will soon be playing in a Class 6A play-in contest, fell 25-18, 18-25, 25-18, 25-18 to the Jaguars in a Pacific Conference match played last Thursday at Century High School.

“We’ll do better in the playoffs,” Tualatin senior libero Beth Fanger said. “We’ll have it together by then.”

“It’s hard to win when you don’t keep your focus the entire time,” first-year Tualatin coach Monica Anderson said. “You have to be in it every single point. But we can keep learning, especially with a team as young as ours. We’ve already shown so much improvement with our volleyball skills. I’m real pleased with that.”

Century improved to 4-9 in conference play to that point with the win. The Timberwolves moved to 4-9 in conference matches with the setback.

Tualatin, which finished its regular season schedule Tuesday with a 25-15, 25-14, 25-12 loss to Glencoe in a conference match played at Glencoe High School, will next be in action when it plays in a Class 6A state play-in DAN BROOD - STANDING TALL -- Tualatin sophomore Haley Howarth puts the ball over the net during the match at Century.

That postseason contest has to be played by Monday, but there looks like it could possibly played on Saturday. The Timberwolves would likely have to play on the road in the play-in tilt.

“I think we’ll be ready,” Anderson said. “It takes an entire team — everyone on the floor and everyone on the bench.”

Tualatin found itself having to battle from behind in the first set of last Thursday’s match at Century, as the Jaguars sprinted out to a 16-8 lead.

But the Timberwolves came storming back, trimming the margin to 18-14 on a tip by junior Katie Savage. Tualatin got even closer, at 19-16, following a point on serve by sophomore Sara Fanger.

But Century, behind some strong serving by sophomore Lauren Weber, was able to pull away to get the 25-18 first-set win.

The home team then opened a quick 3-2 lead to start the second set. Tualatin tied the set at 3-3 on a kill by sophomore Shanna Giorvas and then the Wolves took a 4-3 lead on an ace serve by junior Tegan Bracha, and Tualatin didn’t trail the rest of the set.

A kill by Savage, back-to-back points on serve by Beth Fanger, a kill by Sara Fanger off a set by sophomore Morgan McMasters and an ace by Beth Fanger helped the Wolves open up a 12-5 lead.

Century fought back to trim the margin to 15-11 on a block by senior Darryl Buckley, but Tualatin wouldn’t be denied.

Tualatin quickly added onto its advantage. A kill by Savage off a set by McMasters, and ace serve by Bracha and a block by Savage pushed the lead to 20-13. From there, a kill by Savage, a sideout tip by McMasters and a set-winning ace by McMasters wrapped up the 25-18 second-set win.

“We had better communication,” Beth Fanger said of the second-set win. “We got the tips and took care of the ball.”

“We just did it,” Anderson said.

But Tualatin couldn’t carry its momentum into the third set. The Jaguars took an early 6-4 lead, but Tualatin tied the set up at 6-6 behind back-to-back kills by Savage and sophomore Haley Howarth.

However, Century took over from there. The Jaguars scored seven unanswered points to open a 13-6 lead, and they led the rest of the set.

Tualatin did trim the margin to 19-18 on an ace serve by senior Jasmine Miller, but Century pulled away again. The Jaguars scored the final six points of the set to get a 25-18 win.

Century then took early control in the fourth set, scoring four straight points to start the game.

Kills by Miller, Savage and Howarth helped Tualatin cut the lead to 12-8, but the Jaguars answered with a 5-0 run to up the margin to 17-8.

Tualatin, not giving up, got a pair of kills by Sara Fanger, a kill by Miller and a block by Savage to keep within reach, at 21-15.

But Century, getting a pair of kills by junior Allie Williams, closed out the 25-18 fourth-set win to wrap up the victory.

“It was tough,” Beth Fanger said. “We had a little slump in every game, and they’re good hitters.”

“We just have to be ready for everything all the time,” Anderson said.

The winner of the upcoming Class 6A play-in contest will advance to play in the first round of the Class 6A state playoffs, which will be held on Wednesday.

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