Liberty cruises past Forest Grove, 3-0
It was a match both teams needed to win, but unfortunately for one of them, it wasn't meant to be.
The Liberty Falcons got that win, defeating Forest Grove in straight sets, 25-21, 25-19 and 25-16, in front of a nice crowd Monday night, Oct. 7, at Forest Grove High School. Led by the combination of size and skill, the Falcons' Breeze Bartle, Olyvia Davis, and Elizabeth Maloney set the tone, while senior co-captain Maddie Ineson kept them all in check by way of the type of leadership head coach Melanie Miller has come to expect from the outside hitter.
"Maddie Ineson has been a great leader for us," Miller said. "She really leads by example and the girls really look up to her a lot. I really feel like all our players stepped up tonight, but I feel like Maddie really stepped up in a big way with the leadership."
The win was just the third overall for the Falcons, and the second in Pacific Conference play. Miller and her girls knew this was a game they could win, but the question was would they capitalize on the opportunity afforded them?
"Absolutely, we thought this was a match we could win," she said. "We're right at that midway point in the season and we really wanted to capitalize and create a turning point for our team."
"Yeah, it feels really good," Bartle said. "We knew we could get a win, but we hadn't played them since the beginning of the season so we didn't know how much better they may have gotten. We've been improving every practice and this was a chance for us to prove it."
The 6-foot middle blocker was a force at the net, blocking five shots and gathering six kills. In addition to work up front, the senior also did work at the service line, notching three aces in the match.
"Breeze has been really strong for us all year," Miller said. "She's a senior now and probably going to play in college, so we've leaned on her and she's been there when we needed her."
The first set was pretty tightly contested, with the teams tied 13-13 midway through. Liberty, however, pulled away, scoring seven of the set's next eight points thanks in large part to a series of kills and aces by Ineson and Davis. Forest Grove pulled back to within 22-20, though, on the back of junior Amanda Rebsom, who was a force at the net, blocking nine shots on the night. Having none of it, Bartle beat back the comeback bid, killing three shots to end the set and giving the visitors a one-set-to-none lead.
It was all Liberty from there. The Falcons jumped ahead 14-7 thanks to primarily to Bartle, and led by as many as 11 before the Vikings pulled within 23-17 when defensive specialist Elamny Hernandez-Guarema got hot from behind the service line, tallying a couple aces. But Liberty finished the deal and went on to take the third set on their way to the win.
Bartle was pleased, but certainly not satisfied with the effort.
"We played pretty decent," she said. "We could've done better, but this was definitely one of our better games of late, and one we needed."
Meanwhile, her coached was a little more enthused.
"A great win," Miller said. "Everybody got in, everyone contributed, I'm just really proud of them because they all played together. We're really excited to get this win."
Ineson finished with five kills and five aces.
Forest Grove was led by Rebsom's nine blocks. Grosse, Marisa Oberhelman and Jennifer Rodriguez combined for 15 kills.
The Vikings travel to Sherwood Wednesday, Oct. 9, while the Falcons host McMinnville on the same night.
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