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The Tide win the opening set, but lose focus and fall 3-1 to second place Tigers.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Glencoe's Jayda Lee (left) and Brooke Benjamin (right) go up to block a shot during the Crimson Tide's game against Newberg Thursday, Oct. 24, at Glencoe High School.It's not how you start, it's how you finish — and Glencoe learned that the hard way versus Newberg last week.

The Crimson Tide dominated the first set of their regular season finale with the Tigers, but lost focus, momentum and ultimately the match, dropping the last three sets en route to a 3-1 loss Thursday night, Oct. 24, at Glencoe High School.

"That was all on us," Glencoe head coach Mike Gaffaney said. "I thought Newberg played well all four sets, but we came out and leveraged a lot of the energy from it being Senior Night and our last home match in that opening set, then just let down."

After winning the first set rather handily, 25-12, the home Tide lost their traction midway through the second and were hastily put down from there, 25-16, 25-19 and 25-7. Newberg was led by two outside hitters, junior Brynna Geibel and 6-foot freshman Sophia Gregoire-Salagean, who combined for 23 kills and led what would eventually be a consistent and strong Tiger attack.

"Overall it was pretty good," Newberg head coach MacKenzie Upchurch said. "It was good to see that even though we started slow, the girls responded. They committed to their roles and you saw the result on the scoreboard."

Following a prolonged pre-game ceremony to celebrate Glencoe seniors Aneli Godinez-Martinez, Tia Schlottmann, Abby Puncochar and Annie Dao, the Tide shot from the gate behind Godinez-Martinez and juniors Jayda Lee and Brooke Benjamin. Glencoe built a four-point lead early, quickly grew that to eight — and before long the lead was 12 and the Tide were running away with the first set.

But after playing to a 12-12 tie midway through the second, Geibel took over, accounting for Newberg's next five points en route to a 25-16 win.

"We talked a little bit about strategy and how I wanted them to execute tonight and once they had a couple of reps under their belt, they worked really well both offensively and defensively," Upchurch said.

It was mostly Newberg from there. The Tigers jumped out to a 15-7 lead thanks in part to Glencoe's self-inflicted wounds, but despite battling back to within 17-14 thanks to a handful of Lee kills and blocks, Geibel and Gregoire-Salagean sealed the deal late, winning five of the next six points on their way to a 25-19 win and an easy fourth-set victory.

"We weren't inspired," Gaffaney said. "We couldn't duplicate what we had in that first set — the focus, energy and intensity. That's where we need that leadership to pull us out of those times, and we've just had a hard time developing that this season."

The coach is hopeful his team will learn from the match, and added that they typically respond well to a disappointing effort. They'll need to, assuming they reach the state playoffs.

"It's a new season and we'll look at it that way," Gaffaney said. "We'll start from scratch and hopefully that gives us the energy and the focus to regroup and play at a higher level."

And Newberg? They clinched second place in the Pacific Conference with the win, and Upchurch was encouraged by how her team responded from what was a very difficult loss to league-leading McMinnville two nights prior. Now, the coach says they'll prepare for next week's playoffs, and she's excited for what's to come.

"We're definitely excited," she said. "We always play better with a little rest, and we won't play again until next Wednesday, so I think the girls will be ready to go."

Glencoe was led by Godinez-Martinez, who finished with 10 kills, while Lee finished with eight.

The OSAA rankings freeze Saturday night, and playoff matchups will be announced after that.

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