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The newfound bond between outside hitters Kalista Lukovich and Madi Andrews has helped push the Hawks to new heights.

PMG PHOTO: ANDY DIECKHOFF - Nelson senior Kalista Lukovich (9) and freshman Madi Andrews (5) combined for 30 kills in the Hawks' 3-0 win over South Eugene in the first round of the OSAA 6A Volleyball State Championship tournament, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022, at Adrienne C. Nelson High School in Happy Valley.

Madi Andrews has looked up to Kalista Lukovich for some time now.

Now that the two teammates on the Adrienne C. Nelson High School volleyball team, the senior Lukovich has taken Andrews, a freshman, under her wing. They play the same outside hitter position, forming a relentless attack that has elevated the Hawks into a state title contender.

Nelson (25-3, 14-0 Mt. Hood) entered the OSAA 6A Volleyball State Championship tournament as the No. 5 seed, and on Wednesday night, Oct. 26, the Hawks swept No. 28 South Eugene 25-15, 25-19, 25-16 at home in Happy Valley. The dynamic duo of Lukovich and Andrews combined for 30 kills in the win, with the senior leading the team at 16.

"She has pushed me the whole way since the start of the season," said Andrews of Lukovich's influence this year. "I've always looked up to her since I was a little kid, so I've always wanted to be like her. I've just pushed myself to be close to as good as she is."

Meanwhile, Lukovich has not only enjoyed helping Andrews up her game — the senior is also enjoying the extra competition her new teammate brings.

"It's been really fun, since we're the same position," said Lukovich. "It's been nice to compete with her and egg her on, that senior-freshman type of relationship."

PMG PHOTO: ANDY DIECKHOFF - The Nelson Hawks volleyball team celebrates during its 3-0 win over South Eugene in the first round of the OSAA 6A Volleyball State Championship tournament, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022, at Adrienne C. Nelson High School in Happy Valley.

Their drive to push each other forward has helped push the Hawks to new heights this year.

It has been a massively successful season for the Hawks to this point, going undefeated in the Mt. Hood Conference and dropping only two sets the entire way as they brought home the program's first-ever league trophy. Meanwhile, Nelson's only losses on the ledger have come in best-of-three tournament matches against No. 1 Jesuit, No. 2 Westview and No. 3 Sheldon.

"Most of the teams I've been on, we haven't started that strong. This team, we really connected early," said Lukovich. "That was really helpful in beating teams early on that hadn't gotten that trust and bond. We're still growing together, which is really nice going into state."

Part of that chemistry comes from having five seniors on the team. Joining Lukovich in the senior class are middle blocker Maddy Abraham, libero Zoë Szczesniak, outside/opposite hitter Kaylie Christopher and defensive specialist Shanah Denham. All of them contribute mightily to the team, as does the rest of the roster.

That senior-freshman relationship between Lukovich and Andrews may be the extra ingredient that is elevating the Hawks this year, though.

PMG PHOTO: ANDY DIECKHOFF - Nelson freshman Madi Andrews (5) records one of her 14 kills during the Hawks' 3-0 win over South Eugene in the first round of the OSAA 6A Volleyball State Championship tournament, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022, at Adrienne C. Nelson High School in Happy Valley.

Andrews has raw talent to spare, but Lukovich has made a point to help work on the mental side of the game.

"I've been able to help her because I've grown a lot in that aspect," said the senior of her lessons with Andrews. "Obviously, she's a really good player, so just getting her head there for the games and practices is a big next step.

"I feel like I've been a big part of helping her with that, and it's just been nice."

Andrews has come into her own as a freshman thanks to the guidance of Lukovich and the rest of the older Nelson players she has admired for so long.

"I've always just watched them, and I've wanted to be with them," said Andrews. "They're just such a good, fun group."

Now, this fun group of Hawks is soaring together as they look to add a state title to the trophy case next to their new Mt. Hood Conference crown.

Up next

Nelson will host No. 12 West Linn (17-9, 9-3 Three Rivers) in the second round of the OSAA 6A Volleyball State Championship tournament Saturday, Oct. 29, 1 p.m., at Adrienne C. Nelson High School in Happy Valley.

After finishing second place in the Three Rivers League, the Lions defeated No. 21 Sandy 3-1 (25-14, 19-25, 25-17, 27-25) in first-round action Wednesday night. West Linn comes in as the underdog on paper, but the Lions are the defending state champions.

"I think it will be a really good game," said Lukovich, noting Nelson's earlier wins over West Linn in tournament play this year. "I think we'll come out on top."


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