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The Pioneers (19-6) won 25-13, 25-9, 25-17 in final tuneup before Wednesday's OSAA 6A volleyball playoff opener vs. West Salem

MPG PHOTO: JIM BESEDA - Oregon Citys Emma Pruitt (9) had four kills, a team-high seven blocks, and two service aces in Wednesdays Three Rivers League road win to close out the regular season.Oregon City's game plan for Wednesday's first round of the OSAA Class 6A volleyball playoffs is simple: Keep on keeping on.

The No. 9-ranked Pioneers closed the regular season on a high note Wednesday, rolling to a 25-13, 25-9, 25-17 Three Rivers League road win over the Lakeridge Pacers.

Oregon City setter Anessa Chirgwin sparked the offense with 35 assists, and outside hitters Alison Brown and Madison Hornback had a combined 27 kills as the Pioneers (19-6, 11-3 Three Rivers) finished off a sweep of their two-game league series with the Pacers (16-12, 4-10).

"Our offense was really clicking today," Pioneers coach Erica Frafjord said. "Our serve-receive was excellent, we played really well, and it makes it really easy when our setter doesn't have to run around. That was really good today."

The challenge for Oregon City now is to take the momentum from their second-place finish in league play and carry that over to Wednesday's 6:30 p.m. playoff opener against West Salem (11-11) at Oregon City High School.

"Oh, we're so ready for what's next," said Brown, the senior outside hitter. "We're working so well together as a team right now. As long as we show up and everyone's ready to play, I like our chances in the playoffs."

Added Hornback: "Since the beginning of the season, we have really improved and just come together as a team. I think we're ready for the playoffs. We're in the top 10 for the first time in years, so it's really exciting.

"I think we just need to put the work in during practice and keep doing what we've been doing."

The Pioneers are making their fourth consecutive appearance in the 6A playoffs. They had to go on the road to face Sheldon in Eugene to open last year's playoffs and lost in straight, 25-17, 28-26, 25-22 – a loss that served as motivation for many of the players on this year's team.

"It's win or go home," Frafjord said. "It just means every ball is that much more critical, every point is that much more important. And it means we have to come ready to play, and that's one of the advantages to playing in the Three Rivers, because you have to be ready to play every single day in this league."

Six teams from the Three Rivers qualified for the playoffs, including the sixth-place Pacers, who stood at No. 21 in the final OSAA power rankings and will open the playoffs on the road against Portland Interscholastic League-champion Wilson.

"After the match, I said to the girls, 'Our next season starts tomorrow, so everyone come into the gym ready to go,'" Pacers coach Wendy Stammer said. "We have really had moments of greatness this year. Looking at our overall record, our only losses have been to league opponents, so we know how to compete."

Lakeridge paid tribute to the team's six seniors before Thursday's match in an emotional pregame ceremony that left some of the Pacers with tears in their eyes to start the first set.

Oregon City dominated all three sets, using a 10-1 run to close out the first set, a 12-3 run to cap the second, and a 10-7 run to put away the third set and the match.

"Honestly, we just did what we normally do," said Hornback, who had a team-high 14 kills and eight digs. "Serve-receive was great, setting was great, and our hitting was there."

Kendall Baldwin led Lakeridge with five kills, and Kally Lewis added four kills and two blocks.

"I know that we were super-emotional before the match because it's Senior Night and I love to see my girls so emotional in one sense, in that they really enjoyed their time here," Stammer said. "That's really important to me. But it's hard to play right after that, too.

"We didn't play our best. We actually did some really good things during the match, and I kept looking at the score thinking, 'That score does not reflect how we're playing.' It seemed like the games were a lot closer than what the score was saying."

The Pioneers deserve credit, too, getting contributions from up and down the lineup, including Abby Bareksten's team-high 10 digs, Kailee Weaver's five kills and two service aces, and Emma Pruitt's four kills, seven blocks, and two aces.

"Oregon City is a solid team," Stammer said. "They going to do well in the playoffs and I wish them well because they're such a good team.

"We couldn't put the block up that we needed against them tonight. Our hitting was pretty solid, but we got into trouble on the block and on defense, and that's what good hitters do to you, right?"

In other first-round playoff matchups Wednesday, No. 14 Clackamas (18-9) plays host to No. 19 Sherwood (14-8) in a 6:30 p.m. match, defending state champion Jesuit (20-4) plays at home against Barlow (10-16), and No. 2-ranked Central Catholic (23-3) is home to face McNary (-12) in the final state tournament for Rams head coach Rick Lorenz.


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