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The Chieftans erase an early deficit in the third set to complete the playoff sweep

PMG PHOTO: DAVID BALL - Corbetts Morgan Stafford pops a back-set out of the front row during Saturdays three-set loss to Philomath in the 4A playoffs.

First-round playoff

Team Score
Philomath (25, 25, 25)
Corbett (19, 17, 16)

Corbett's volleyball team closed out its historic season with a three-set loss to Philomath in the opening round of the 4A state playoffs Saturday night.

On a night where most of the home crowd was sporting red 'Champions' T-shirts honoring the team's run to its first Tri-Valley title, the Cardinals got the packed house on its feet early by winning a rally that saw the ball clear the net at least 20 times. Mimi Tesulov went down in the front row to dig up one ball, and libero Riley Mandzij dived into the middle to save another. The point finally ended with Grace Merrill blocking a ball in the middle for a 4-1 lead out of the gates.

Philomath rushed back relying on its size across the front to gain control of the first set. On one point, 6-foot-3 freshman Abigail Brown turned away back-to-back Corbett attacks — her second block forcing a rushed Corbett swing that went wild into the first row of the bleachers.

Ashley Matthews hit a service ace to give the Chieftans the first set 25-19.

That momentum carried into the middle set in which Philomath would never trail.

Corbett had a chance to pull even at 10 points, but Philomath turned back the challenge with another pair of blocks from Brown, along with a kill from Sage Kramer.

The Cardinals climbed back within two points in the middle stages of the set when Morgan Stafford hit an ace that deflected off a Philomath player and into the back wall.

Seven of the next eight points went to the Chieftans, who went on to take the set 25-17.

PMG PHOTO: DAVID BALL - Corbetts Grace Merrill puts up a block against an attack from Philomaths Sage Kramer.

Corbett's best stretch of the night came at the start of the third set when it reeled off four consecutive points. The Cardinals highlighted the run when Stafford retreated behind the 10-foot line and hit a tricky set into the middle for Merrill, who swung through for a powerful kill. Philomath was called for a lift on the next point, prompting the visitors to call a timeout.

Corbett built its biggest lead of the night at 7-2 when Merrill rose up for a block in the middle that left the Chieftans to simply turn and watch as the ball went clean through the middle before touching down just inside the end line.

The teams would be tied at three points during the middle stages of the set before Kramer made a diving save in the backcourt, and Jeolle Berger spiked the ball down to put Philomath ahead to stay 12-11.

Megan Harper ended the longest rally of the set with a kill that went off Corbett arms and into the bleachers — part of an eight-point surge that put the Chieftans in command on their way to a 25-16 win.

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This story is slated for our Tuesday, Nov. 5, print edition.

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