Cougars upset Sprague in pool play and knocked out league rival Oregon City in quarterfinals

PMG PHOTO: DEREK WILEY - Canby senior Ruby Kayser tries to block a shot at the net against Central Catholic Saturday at West Linn High School.

WEST LINN — Canby upset the reigning Class 6A state runner-up, got revenge on Oregon City and then battled the No. 3 team in the state through three sets.

Not bad for a day's work.

The Cougars defeated La Salle Prep and Sprague 2-0 Saturday morning to win its pool and advance to the eight-team gold division at West Linn High School.

Sprague entered the tournament 16-5 and ranked No. 6 in OSAA's 6A rankings.

Canby opened play in the gold division against Three Rivers League rival Oregon City, which upset Sunset to win its pool.

The Cougars were 0-2 against Oregon City in league play this season, but were able to top the Pioneers 2-1 by jumping out to a 7-2 lead in the deciding third set and holding on to win 15-11 and advance to the semifinals against No. 3 Central Catholic.

"We didn't really want to play them in this tournament because they're in our league and we wanted to play some different teams," Canby senior Ruby Kayser said. "But I think it was kind of a blessing in disguise because we got to have that revenge against them. I think that also gave us a ton of momentum going into the game against Central Catholic."

PMG PHOTO: DEREK WILEY - Canby outside hitter Daley McClellan hits the ball over the net Saturday against Central Catholic.

The Cougars lost the first set 25-16 to Central Catholic, but roared back to dominate the second 25-12.

"When top teams play us and we start to get on a run, they freak out and they're like, 'Oh my God, why are we losing to Canby?' And then we really take advantage of it," Kayser said.

Canby also played "confident" and "loose" after beating Sprague and Oregon City.

"I think a lot of the time when we play some bigger teams, we doubt ourselves too much and we get tense and we don't pass good and don't play good and hit the ball out," Kayser said. "Being loose and playing with confidence is the main thing for our team."

Kayser hustled all over the court, setting up outside hitter Daley McClellan.

"Ruby ran her butt off," Canby coach T.J. Schlatter said. "She ran all over and she's really the reason that we do what we do. She takes bad passes and gets us in system and makes good choices. I think she gets overlooked a lot. Daley was obviously phenomenal."

Schlatter also credited senior libero Arika Evans for providing a spark in the second set.

"Arika really jacked up the energy and didn't stop," Schlatter said. "And once you start getting a few points you get confident. You could just see their confidence going up and up and up."

PMG PHOTO: DEREK WILEY - Canby junior Caitlin Gay hits the ball over the net Saturday against Oregon City.

"I knew if we were going to make any change in the second set we had to get as loud and as pumped as we can," Evans said. "Even though maybe we don't have the biggest all-around hitters, we can still make up for that with how we talk and communicate on the court."

Canby led 9-7 in the third set before the Rams fought back to win 15-12 and advance to the finals.

West Linn then defeated Central Catholic 2-1 (25-21, 13-25, 15-10) to win the tournament championship.

Canby finishes the regular season Thursday at home against Tualatin. The state playoffs begin Oct. 30.

"They're fighters. I knew that already, but they really showed it today," Schlatter said of her team. "That's a daunting (Central Catholic) team. They're very stacked and we were so close to beating them because they fought through it. I'm really proud of them."

Derek Wiley
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