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Culver High Lady Dawgs volleyball win three league games, now 6-1 in 2A-2 Tri-River Conference.

STEELE HAUGEN - Kayden Benningfield spikes the ball during the Lady Dawgs' 3-0 victory over Chemawa Sept. 27. 
Culver has two home games at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2.The Culver volleyball team had another strong week, beating three league opponents.

Most recently, the Culver Lady Dawgs beat the Chemawa Braves 3-0 Sept. 27.

The first set was close as the game was tied 9-9 before aces by Anyla Rico gave Culver some momentum. Rico served five aces and a tip and kill by Claire Bender made the score 16-9, forcing Chemawa to call timeout.

Culver remained in control after their run, and a tip by Lucy Louden and kill by Janae Rhen gave Culver a 25-16 first set victory.

The second set was a bit different as the Lady Dawgs never trailed. Culver was able to take control of the second set and win 25-14.

Set three was tied at 9-9 before Louden served two aces in a row. Chemawa called a timeout, but it was too late. A big spike by Rhen and ace by Bridget Lopez helped Culver go on a 12-4 run after the timeout.

Rico had a kill to secure a 25-12 set three victory and match win. After the win over Chemawa, the Lady Dawgs moved to 9-4 overall, 6-1 in league play.

Culver had 26 aces in their win over the Chemawa Braves.

"I thought we worked our butts off," Rico said. "We could have done a little better. In the first set, we struggled, but we started getting our serves in; we were able to get into a groove and rhythm."

"We are going to finish all the way," she said. "I think we can win all our league games and then beat Kennedy because that is the only league game we have lost."

Swinging by Santiam

Culver traveled to Santiam to face the Wolverines Sept. 25, and after being down 2-0 in the first two sets, Culver came back to win 3-2.

"We started out really, really flat and it looked like we were tired from our travel week, but the fact of the matter is, these teams aren't getting any closer," head coach Gabrielle Alley said. "Santiam had three games, as well, that week and we're missing two starters, so I think it was just all errors on our side. That was the frustrating part for both them and the coaching staff. Santiam didn't let anything drop and we just had all errors, whether it was serving, setting, or hitting. Those made the difference."

"After a timeout after the second set, we talked about how our goal was to win three in a row and we still had that opportunity," she said. "We just put a little more pressure and made it a little harder on ourselves. We battled with them and were able to pull away. The most exciting thing for me is being able to see the girls have that fight, fire and desire that we hadn't seen in the close matches. We pulled together and had some energy and momentum that helped with that win."

The Lady Dawgs won in five sets 23-25, 24-26, 25-19, 25-19, 15-11. Rico had six aces as well as 14 kills. Bender ended the game with 15 kills. Rhen led the team in assists with 18 and Richards was behind her with 16. Lopez had an incredible 43 digs to lead the team.

STEELE HAUGEN - Emma Richards returns the ball backwards during Culver's 3-0 win over Chemawa Sept. 27. 
Jumping over Gervais

The Lady Dawgs beat Gervais 3-0 in an away match Sept. 23. Culver won 25-17, 25-23, 25-14.

"Gervais played some scrappy ball that caught us off guard, but once we figured that out and put the ball away, that was the big difference in that match," Alley said. "We are just continuing to work on consistency and that was the difference in highs and lows for that game. The third set, we came out strong, started early and continued to lead, so that was good."

Bender and Rhen led the team in aces with five each. Bender also had 11 kills and Louden was behind her with five. Lopez ended the match with 17 digs, while Emma Richards had 13 assists and Rhen nine.

"Serving is something we have been working on a lot in practice and something that we have been talking about when playing teams; we can't let them side out by our missed serves," Alley said. "We need to keep that pressure on them and make them earn their points."

Culver has two home matches on Wednesday, Oct. 2. The Lady Dawgs play Sheridan at 3 p.m. and Santiam at 6 p.m. Culver also has a home match against Colton at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 7.

"Our goal all season has been to make state," said Alley. "In whatever way, a state playoff game is the goal. These league games are very important and our league in general has been doing better in terms of rankings. We have had competitive matches, which helps with ranking and things like that. Kennedy continues to be a tough team to compete with."

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