As the Three Rivers League volleyball season continues to unfold, the West Linn Lions are starting to gel together as a team.
The Lions finished off a perfect Week 2 of TRL games in style, defeating Lake Oswego in a five-setter (25-15, 15-25, 25-15, 25-21, 15-12) to move to 3-1 in league play and 5-4 overall. It was a back-and-forth affair at Lake Oswego High School, with the teams trading off set wins until West Linn eventually emerged victorious. The Lions now trail only Oregon City (4-0 TRL, 5-2 overall) in the Three Rivers League standings.
West Linn senior Amyah Semau was happy that the Lions got the win on the road; however, she knows her team has more to offer.
"They were really good," said Semau of her Lake Oswego opponents. "They played with a lot of heart — and unfortunately, we did not. I don't think we should have gone to five sets, but we dug deep and pulled it out.
"I think we definitely could have (put it away sooner)," Semau said. "I think we should have. We'll just learn for next time."
Those learning experiences are coming on the fly, which makes sense considering the Lions lost eight seniors off their state championship team from last season. However, Semau notes that this group is starting to come together nicely in practice.
"Right now, it's a brand-new team, so we're working a lot on chemistry and playing together and (establishing) trust," said the senior. "We've been working extremely hard in practices and working together to get better."
Semau also realizes that the Lions aren't alone in fielding a lot of new faces this fall.
"Honestly, this year, I think everybody has basically a new team," said Semau of the Three Rivers League. "Everybody graduated a decent amount of seniors. It's just fun to see the new competition."
Regardless of whether or not its teams are less experienced, the league is still looking tough this season, said West Linn junior Olivia Doel.
"We've played a lot of good teams so far this season," Doel said. "They've all come out with a lot of energy, and that's something we're working really hard on matching. As the season goes on, we're going to become this bigger, better, faster, louder team. I'm really excited."
If it's intensity that Doel wants to see, she is certainly doing a good job leading the charge. Every time West Linn won a point, Doel exploded in celebration as if the Lions had just won another state title. The junior setter was flying around the court Tuesday night for the Lions, whether getting in position to make crisp passes to set up Semau and others, or sacrificing her body on the floor diving for the ball. In fact, Doel — most recently listed at 5-foot-7 on the West Linn roster — even got into the mix trying to block at the net when needed.
"I find it (to be) a way that I can help the team without the physical stuff," said Doel of bringing the energy. "Yeah, I can set well, but none of that really matters if my energy is not lifting up my teammates. I also just find it super enjoyable to make every game fun."
Between the infectious energy building up within the team and steady improvements on the court, Doel feels confident that the team chemistry is falling into place nicely as the Lions enter the middle portion of the season.
"I really have faith in this team. I'm super excited to see where this team is going to go and how we're going to grow," Doel said. "Just measuring from the beginning of the season, that first Tigard game, I think our chemistry has gotten better. We've gotten more knowledge of the game, and we're just more ready to play."
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