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The Bulldogs move to 5-0 in league play after beating the Dragons in three sets

ANDY DIECKHOFF/MADRAS PIONEER - Culver junior Kayden Leeann (12) attacks for a kill during the Bulldogs' three-set win over Delphian on Monday.

Culver volleyball improved to 5-0 in conference play on Monday, beating the Delphian Dragons in three sets, 25-20, 25-13, 25-18. The win keeps the Bulldogs, who are 7-5 overall, atop the Tri-River Conference standings. Salem Academy (8-2, 4-0) is the only other unbeaten team in Tri-River play.

The Bulldogs got out to a bit of a slow start on Monday, with Delphian jumping out a 5-2 lead in the first set. A block from Culver's Kayden Leeann helped to shake off the cobwebs and get momentum going back in the other direction. Shortly thereafter, a pair of aces from Shanti Rosales and a powerful kill from Hensley Wachter put the Bulldogs in the driver's seat. The Dragons stuck with Culver through much of that first set, but the Bulldogs eventually prevailed 25-20, with the set-ending play coming on a Delphian attack error.

ANDY DIECKHOFF/MADRAS PIONEER - Culver senior Lucy Louden (1) led the Bulldogs in kills during Monday's home victory over Delphian.The second set began in much the same way that the first set did — with the Dragons jumping out to an early 5-2 lead. The Bulldogs fought back and regained the lead on Lucy Louden's serve. After an ace during that service, Louden had three more kills in the set. At 19-13, Wachter had another emphatic kill to set up five straight Culver points on Rosales' serve.

In the third and final set, the Bulldogs finally got started on the right foot. Culver jumped out to a 12-4 lead early in the set, a run that included two more aces from Rosales and two more kills from Louden. In the latter portion, another Leeann block put the score at 17-8, and Brooke Bush's third ace of the night put the score at 21-9. The Dragons made a late push, winning eight of the next ten points to bring the score to 23-17.

With Delphian surging, the Bulldogs needed a big play to stop the bleeding — and Wachter delivered. The junior middle rose up for another emphatic spike, getting a crucial kill to set up match point. The fiery celebration that followed riled up the home crowd and Wachter's fellow teammates, giving the Bulldogs energy for one final push. Rosales nearly sealed the deal with an ace, but her serve went just long. On the next point, however, a Delphian player went into the net to give Culver the match-winning point.

Rosales, who rotates in for Leeann on service, led the Bulldogs with six total aces during the match. Louden led the team in kills with seven. Notably, Culver was without senior hitter Emma Richards on Monday. In her place, junior Madison Constantine played as an outside hitter, while sophomore Dylan Thomas handled serving duties and recorded two aces on the day.

Culver has now won 15 consecutive sets in Tri-River play. The Bulldogs continue their season on Saturday with the Mountain View Tournament in Bend, followed by matches with Western Christian and Sheridan next week. Culver hosts the Pioneers on Tuesday, Sept. 28, and the team travels to play the Spartans on Thursday, Sept. 30. Both matches are scheduled for 5 p.m. starts.

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