No. 1 Jesuit volleyball survives No. 5 Nelson to advance to final
The top-ranked Jesuit High School volleyball will be playing in the state championship game — but it almost didn't happen.
After being taken to five sets in the quarterfinals by No. 9 Sprague on Friday morning, Nov. 4, Jesuit went the distance again in the semifinals for a comeback 3-2 (25-23, 24-26, 21-25, 25-20, 15-13) win over No. 5 Nelson. The Crusaders took the first set on Friday night before dropping the next two, setting up a frenetic final two sets. A kill from Jesuit junior Lilly Lansing provided the match-winning point that sent her team on to the 6A state championship match on Saturday night, Nov. 5, against No. 3 Sheldon.
"It's definitely giving us a lot more motivation, having to fight for the five sets," Lansing said after the match. "It really shows that we all need each other as a team. We have each other's backs, so we trust each other. That's how we pulled it out."
"This team knows how to fight, for sure," added Jesuit senior Isabel Patterson. "We know how to come together and support each other, and I think that's what sets us apart."
Patterson continued: "It's obviously been very stressful, but I love playing with this team so much," added Jesuit senior Isabel Patterson. "I like to say that every time we go to five sets, we just get to play more volleyball. So, it's been really fun. We're making the most of it."
As for their most recent opponent, Patterson says she knew the Hawks would give Jesuit (33-0, 12-0) a good fight.
"We know going into it that they were going to push us," said Patterson. "The one thing we really came into it thinking was having a really good serve-receive because we knew they served hard. They're a great team, and I have so much respect for them. They're an amazing team."
Nelson head coach Lisa Flaherty-McBee feels the same way about her Hawks. She could not be happier with the effort they put in on Friday night, though she was not surprised by it.
"They were incredible, they've just been incredible," said Flaherty-McBee of her team. "They have reached these peaks, and we're still not done yet. We have a match tomorrow (Saturday, Nov. 5). We're in the second year of our program, and here we are at the state tournament playing for third."
The coach added: "There are 13 incredible individuals on this team. To watch be able to do this, to be able to be part of that journey and experience, it's just incredible. To watch people rise to a level of excellence, it's one of those things in your life that makes you think, 'This is so special.'"
For Nelson's Kaylie Christopher, this season has been a great way for the Hawks' seniors to go on one last ride together.
"This group of seniors has been together since sophomore year," said Christopher of the team's five elders. "We've really connected, and we've had this mission for years. We bring so much love to each other out there on the court."
Even when the team was down on the scoreboard, they never got down on themselves.
"We just love to have fun," said Christopher. "It's really important for us to win, but we're not going to play just to be serious and down or thinking that making mistakes is bad. No, making mistakes is fine."
In fact, at one point during the Crusaders' comeback while the Jesuit supporters in the stands were chanting a song, a few of the Nelson players began dancing along with the tune.
"We use that energy from everyone, no matter who it's for," Christopher added. "If there's energy, it's for us."
Nelson (27-4, 14-0) can end its extremely successful season on a high note when the Hawks take on Westview (in the third-place match on Saturday at noon.
"We've played them one time, and we did lose, but we had a lot of missed serves," said Christopher of the matchup with Westview (26-5, 10-2). "We played really hard against them, and I definitely think we can beat them. We just need to play like how we did just now (against Jesuit)."
Turning back to the Crusaders, Jesuit now has one more test ahead against Sheldon (28-5, 11-1) in order to complete a perfect season with a state title. For their part, the Irish beat Westview 3-1 (25-19, 25-23, 6-25, 25-11) to book their ticket to the championship game.
"We've played them a couple times, and they're definitely a good team," said Patterson of the matchup with Sheldon. "We're going to come out and play our game, keep our energy on our side of the court and do our best."
The OSAA 6A Volleyball State Championship match between No. 1 Jesuit and No. 3 Sheldon begins at 6 p.m. Saturday evening at Forest Grove High School. For tickets, visit osaa.org.
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