Canby upsets Sprague to advance to Class 6A volleyball state quarterfinals
SALEM — Sprague's volleyball team and student section wore all black for Saturday's second round playoff game.
The attire was perfect for their funeral, as Canby buried the Olympians 3-2 in five sets to advance to the Class 6A quarterfinals.
Tied 10-10 in the fifth set, an ace by Caitlin Gay and kill from Daley McClellan gave the Cougars a 12-10 lead.
Two more kills by McClellan set up match point.
"I just thought the time is now and that I needed to go all out and keep the ball in play as well as stay aggressive," McClellan said.
Gay then delivered another ace for match point.
"I was thinking make an ace and finish the game," Gay said. "I try not to think about missing it or making mistakes, and trust my team that they are going to keep the ball going and keep me serving."
Canby will play in the state tournament at Liberty High School for the first time since 2009, when the Cougars placed fifth.
"I'm freaking out," senior Ruby Kayser said. "I'm so pumped. I knew we could do it. Oh my gosh, I'm going to cry. We get to go to Liberty. It just means so much to the team. I am so hyped. I'm just so happy. Just the fact that people doubt we can be there pushes Daley, Caitlyn and I and everybody on the team. We get to play against all of our club friends now because they're always there. It's a great way to end my senior year. That was my biggest goal going into the playoffs."
Playing in a packed gym, Canby dropped the first set 25-19 at Sprague.
"I think everyone was a little stunned by the atmosphere," Kayser said. "They have a huge student section and we haven't really had that at an away game. We had a big student section, too, so I think just the noise factor, and being in this orange gym was intimidating.
"After we got that first set out of our system, I think it was just a matter of confidence and believing that we could win. I think it was just adjusting to the atmosphere that really made the difference."
The Cougars won a back-and-forth second set 27-25 on a McClellan kill. The junior outside hitter then had two more kills to finish off Sprague in the third set 25-23 to take a 2-1 lead.
"I've been playing with Daley forever and I think we just have that connection that is indescribable," Kayser said. "I know where she is on the court without even looking. I could be blind and set her the ball. Just knowing that we're doing it for each other and this is our last year playing together. I just try to get her fired up and she really stepped up tonight, so that was fun. I think everybody did amazing. We're definitely not a one person team."
McClellan hit 111 balls over the five sets and finished with 50 kills. Kayser had all 65 of Canby's assists.
"It's honestly numb right now because of the adrenaline, but I'll probably feel it tomorrow," McClellan said of her right shoulder, which she ices after every match. "Thinking about where we started to where we are now, it's so crazy. It feels so good. I'm so grateful for how far we've come. Not many people get to do this and experience this. And I'm just glad I got to experience it will all of my teammates."
Gay had eight kills and three aces.
"This is incredible, but I believe it though because something has really changed this year," Gay said. "I don't think it's any new players. It's something with us. It's like magic. I don't know. It's crazy."
Arika Evans had three aces and 15 digs.
Canby also had two players come up from the JV and give the Cougars valuable minutes — Samantha Vandecoevering and Kaiya Steyskal.
"Both of them stepped up and really did good," Kayser said. "It's a huge change of pace, JV to varsity. Sammie has been serving great in practice, so we had a lot of confidence in her and Kaiya has a great attitude."
After Sprague won the fourth set, Canby jumped out a 5-1 lead in the fifth.
"There's no sixth set. Sometimes in the fourth set we let up because we have the fifth set," Kayser said. "We kicked it into gear in the fifth set."
After the Olympians stormed back to take a 10-9 lead, the Cougars finished the match on a 6-0 run.
"We played with a lot of heart and a lot of guts," Canby coach T.J. Schlatter said. "Our defense stepped up big. I felt like they had more weapons than us going into it so I was a little worried, but we served them out of system enough that they weren't able to use them."
Canby will open the state tournament Friday at 10 a.m. against Mountainside.
"It's super special for Ruby on her last season to show the impact that she's had on this program," Schlatter said. "This is a great statement, and I think anything can happen now. We're a dangerous team right now, and we're going to ride that for as long as we can."
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