Forest Grove grabs victory without standout outside hitter Emily Huson, and coach points towards exciting future

NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Forest Grove volleyball players huddle during their game against North Salem Oct. 9 at Forest Grove High School. 
It's been a bit of a long year for this year's Forest Grove volleyball team.

At 2-11 and tied for eighth place in the Greater Valley Conference entering Monday night's game with North Salem, the young and somewhat inexperienced Viking squad was desperately in need of a win to validate the time and effort their coach has seen them put forth throughout.

And they got it.

The Vikings dismantled North Salem to the tune of a straight-set victory, and in the process reaped at least a bit of a reward for the hard work head coach Amber Lieb has seen from Day 1.

"It's huge to get a win," said Lieb. "I think we've been getting better as the season's gone on but our record isn't reflecting it. So this win was a good confidence boost for us, especially for some of the girls who've stepped into new roles. We definitely needed it."

Forest Grove was playing without standout outside hitter Emily Huson, who sat out as a result of a concussion she suffered last week. Lieb was forced to rearrange her lineup and even elevate a couple junior varsity players to accommodate the loss of one of her senior leaders.

"Overall, I thought things went well," said Lieb. "Playing without Emily forced us to adapt, and I thought the girls did well and I think the new girls brought an added level of energy and enthusiasm to the team."

Lieb was happy with the movement and communication the girls displayed, citing their ability to get on the same page, which she said has been one of the team's biggest issues this season.

The Vikings were aided by a number of North Salem unforced errors, but their coach noted her team's ability to play their game opposed to playing down to their opponents, something they've struggled with at times this year.

"They didn't lower themselves to the level of their opponent, and that was good to see," Lieb said. "Olivia (Grosse) and Chloe (Kramer), both of my middles, really established themselves in the game. They were connecting really smart plays and putting the balls in places where the defense wasn't expecting it. It was good volleyball."

And what does a win like Monday's mean for Forest Grove going forward?

"I have seen progress, and this is just another step in a positive direction," said Lieb. "Every time we step on the court we play better. There are always things that we see that we need to work on, but the girls are always willing to step up, work hard and try and give me what I'm asking for. I'm excited for the future."

Forest Grove was scheduled to host Sprague Oct. 11 and travel to South Salem Oct. 17 before wrapping up the regular season Oct. 19 at home versus McKay.

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