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Bulldogs smack Santiam on senior night; look to place high in district tournament

LON AUSTIN  - Hensely Walker, 10, rises for a kill shot against Santiam.  The Culver High School volleyball team split a pair of matches last week, falling in straight sets to Salem Academy on the road on Monday, then whipping Santiam in straight sets at home on Wednesday.

Culver fell behind early against Salem Academy, then made a late run, before Salem Academy did just enough to win the first set 25-21. Salem Academy went on to win set two 25-16 and set three 25-11.

"I knew they would be a tough match after seeing how well they had been performing in our league," Culver head coach Gabrielle Williams said of Salem Academy, which recently dropped down from Class 3A. "They definitely were a well-coached team that played a very fast tempo game. It took us a little bit of time to adjust to the speed of the game, but once we did we were able to compete."

Lucy Louden led the Bulldogs in kills with nine, while Hensley Wachter and Anyla Rico each had four and Emma Richards finished with three. Wachter led the team in aces with two and was also second on the team in digs with 11. Shanti Rosales finished with 16 digs, while Louden pitched in with 10.

Richards finished with 12 assists while Brook Bush added nine. Kayden Leeann led the Bulldogs in blocks with three.

"We struggled in serve receive at times, but our setters were flying around and working really hard to get our hitters that ball every chance they got," Williams said. "When we were able to get a good pass, good set, and put pressure on them, we were earning our points. I also thought that Lucy Louden had a great game."

Wednesday, on senior night, the first set against the Santiam Wolverines was close, but once Culver got going they were in charge the rest of the night. The Bulldogs won the first set 25-21, took set two 25-13 and edged the Wolverines 25-19 in set three.

"I thought it was pretty good," Culver's lone senior Anyla Rico said. "I liked how everything ended, especially for the last home game."

Leeann led the Bulldogs in kills in the match with nine while Lauden had eight, Wachter 6 and Rico 5.

Hali Soderstrom finished with 17 assists while Wachter added 13 and Lauden 11. Wachter lead the team in aces with four while Bush had three and Soderstrom two.

Once again, Richards led the team in assists with 15, while Bush added 12.

"We definitely need to work on a few things," Rico said. "But I think that overall we came together and worked as a team. We still need more communication and working together as one instead of getting mad at each other, but I think that over the past few weeks we have been getting better at that."

Williams noted that she was very pleased with the play of several members of the team.

"Hensley Wachter had an amazing match, and as her coach I couldn't be more happy for her," Williams said. "She was smart at the service line, a consistent passer, fearless defensive player and tough at the net. Kayden is also a player that continues to improve. Her blocking as always been a great asset for the team, but I think it is her role as a hitter that we have leaned heavily on this season. I also thought that our senior Anyla had a solid match. She filled her role at the net by being smart yet aggressive and she contributed some great point runs behind the service line."

The Bulldogs were on the road Monday in the first round of the district tournament, when they faced Western Christian. Western Christian is currently fourth in the league while Culver is fifth. In their first match, Western Christian won three sets to two, but that was early in the year when Culver had managed to have just one full practice as a team due to the state's COVID restrictions.

The winner of Monday's match will advance to the second round of the league playoffs. Play will continue throughout the week with only the winning teams advancing.

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