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Culver High School Lady Dawgs volleyball team wins six straight matches, nine out of their last 10.

STEELE HAUGEN - Claire Bender hits a huge spike over the net to the Sheridan Spartans. Culver beat Sheridan 3-2 Oct. 2. They have won nine out of their last 10 games, heading into the last third of the regular season.
The Culver Lady Dawgs hosted a three-way tournament between Sheridan, Santiam, and Culver Oct. 2. Culver beat Sheridan 3-2 and Santiam 3-1, moving to 9-1 in league play after the tournament matches.

Culver played Sheridan in its first match. A starting the set with a 9-8 lead, Culver started to pull away. A few aces by Janae Rhen, mixed with a kill by Claire Bender gave Culver a 19-11 lead.

An ace by Lucy Louden and tip by Emma Richards gave the Lady Dawgs a 22-11 lead. Culver cruised to a 25-16 first set victory.

Sheridan had a strong start to the second set, taking an early 10-2 lead, forcing Culver to call a timeout. The deficit was too much to recover from and Sheridan won the second set 25-10.

The third set was very close all the way to the finish. With the score tied 14-14, Bender served two aces in a row. A few plays later, Rhen hit two big spikes and Anyla Rico was able to get a block, giving Culver a 19-16 lead.

The Lady Dawgs used that momentum to win a very close 25-23 set three victory after Sheridan hit the ball out of bounds.

Set four was almost identical to the second set, with Sheridan taking a big 10-2 lead. That lead would help Sheridan win the fourth set 25-19.

The sets were tied at 2-2, with both teams hoping to be the first team to 15 points and win the match.

Culver took complete control of the last set, and a kill by Louden gave Culver a 7-1 lead. Later, Bridget Lopez served an ace to give the Lady Dawgs a 14-6 lead. Culver won the last set 15-8, and the Lady Dawgs won 3-2 in sets to win the match.

STEELE HAUGEN - Culver's Lucy Louden returns the ball over the net for the Lady Dawgs.
Culver has won six matches in a row and nine out of their last 10 matches"That match was a huge game for us in terms of not only league positioning, but also in OSAA ranking," head coach Gabrielle Alley said. "We continue to climb and thanks to that win and the win over Santiam, we moved up to the highest ranking we have been all season at number eight. Sheridan was above us, so it was kind of nice to get that win and grind it out during a five-set match."

"We came out in that fifth set, very determined and played really solid volleyball, which is really hard when you have been battling in close games," she said.

The Lady Dawgs had 20 aces as a team, with Rhen leading the team with seven of those. Bender and Kayden Benningfield had 13 kills each. Bender had a 2.32 and Lopez, a 2.44 passing rating. Richards had 20 assists, while Rhen had 15. Lopez had another great game, ending with 55 digs.

Culver played Santiam next and was able to win in four sets, 20-25, 25-15, 25-19, 25-20.

Santiam played Sheridan the same day at Culver High School, beating Sheridan 3-1.

"They are a very scrappy team," Alley said. "I don't think their league record reflects how good of a team they are. Hopefully, they will continue to climb with the second half of their league schedule."

Culver had 18 aces as a team and Lopez had seven of those 18 aces. Louden had 18 kills, while Rico ended the night with 12. Richards had 20 assists and Rhen 12. Lopez also had 40 digs and Bender 12.

"Bridget served really tough in some crunch time moments," said Alley. "We are doing a good job moving the ball around with so many different kill leaders in different sets and matches. The hitting errors are something we are still working on."

Going through Gervais

The Lady Dawgs also beat Gervais 3-0 Sept. 30, at home. Culver won in three sets, 25-18, 26-24, 25-15

"The big difference in that match was our serve and serve-receive game," Alley said. "In three sets, we were able to come up with 19 aces and seven of them were from Claire (Bender). Also, our serve-receive continued to be very solid. Bridget passed on a 2.5 out of a 3.0, which is crazy good. Claire passed a 2.75, which is nearly perfect. That was really the big difference."

"We were trailing, but luckily Emma Richards had a serving run at the right time," She said. "It got us back into it, back into the set, which allowed us to come out on top 26-24. Emma's serving run was a big deal."

Lopez led the team in digs with 26, Richards led in assists with 14 assists and Rhen nine assists. Bender led in kills with 11 and Louden had seven.

The Lady Dawgs do not have another home game until Wednesday, Oct. 23, against top-ranked Kennedy. Culver travels to Western Christian High School in Salem, to face the Pioneers at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 9. They also travel to Burns High School (3A) for a nonconference game at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 15.

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