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The Cougars were overwhelmed 25-18, 26-24, 25-16 on the Kingsmen's senior night, look to grow going into playoffs

PMG PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Canby senior Chloe Annas rises up for the kill against Putnam on Oct. 19. The Cougars were swept in straight sets in the rematch.

The Canby High School volleyball team traveled to Milwaukie on Oct. 19 amid the smoke of the fires burning in southwest Washington to face off against Rex Putnam in a clash that likely determined the Northwest Oregon Conference (NWOC) third seed heading into the playoffs. Canby won the first matchup in a three-set sweep and went in confident.

Putnam had other ideas.

Canby was swept 3-0 (25-18, 26-24, 25-16) and dropped to 10-5 in NWOC play, while the Kingsmen took a one-game league advantage with an 11-4 NWOC record.

According to Canby coach Terri Jo Schlatter, the team likely came into the game with the last victory in mind. It didn't hurt Putnam that they played an emotionally charged game.

"That's the best I've ever seen them play," Schlatter said. "It's a great night for that, Senior Night, it's a great way to go. It's 180 degrees from what we saw when we played them at home. I warned my team about that. All week I've been feeling like they're overlooking them because we beat them bad. After the first set it was 25-13 and then 25-9. In their minds, it was that we just have to go a little hard and it'll be fine. They stepped up and we didn't respond."

Canby was on the back foot from the first serve. Putnam leaped out 4-0 and extended their lead to 15-6 by the midway point of the first set. The Cougars drew within one point, getting to 15-14 before the Kinsmen once again extended its lead to win 25-18.

The second set was by far the closest. Canby and Putnam went point for point through the majority of the set, eventually drawing even 23-23 before being outscored 3-1 in the final four points.

The third set saw the Cougars fall behind early and were never able to quite recapture the momentum.

Schlatter is hoping her team responds to this defeat the right way as the playoffs loom large on the horizon.

"Sometimes losing is a wakeup call," Schlatter said. "You take it the right way, it's a wakeup call, you start working harder in practice, get ready to go and learn from it. If you learn from it, maybe it's worth it to lose ahead of the playoffs. If you don't learn from it and it scares you, then obviously it's not worth it. I feel like they'll learn from it, they'll come out and stay a little more aggressive when things get tight."

Canby still has one last contest on its schedule ahead of the 5A playoffs; the Cougars host Centennial (5-16, 3-12 NWOC) in a contest that they should be heavily favored in, but Schlatter wants to see her team learn from the Putnam defeat to avoid another defeat. After all, Canby defeated Centennial 3-0 the first time they met earlier in the season, much the same way it defeated Putnam.

"We handled (Centennial), but they made us work," Schlatter said of the first encounter. "I just told the girls, you have to show up and expect them to be going after you. We're high enough we have a target on our back, which is kind of new for some of these girls. They can't just show up and beat this team, but if we play well and serve tough we should be able to beat them. But it's a game of momentum so ..."

Canby (15-7, 10-5 NWOC) is firmly in fourth place in the NWOC, guaranteed a playoff berth regardless of the Centennial outcome. After the loss to Putnam, the Cougars find themselves ranked 13 in the state at 5A, which would put them against No. 4 Bend (18-4) in the first round of the playoffs. But there's still one more game to go until then and things could change.

Canby hosts Centennial on Tuesday, Oct. 25.

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