Tigers solidify their playoff hopes
Coming off a tight 3-1 road loss to Glencoe Sept. 25, the outlook for the Newberg volleyball team was looking grim when senior libero Grace Kassebaum got injured in the third set versus Liberty two days later.
Kassebaum, however, returned to the match and her grit helped inspire the Tigers to rally for a 3-2 win at home Sept. 27.
Newberg kept up that momentum over the weekend, placing second at the Westview Tournament and are now in the thick of the playoff chase after rising to No. 22 in the state rankings.
"We're very fortunate to have such depth and versatility," coach MacKenzie Upchurch said. "The girls can play a variety of positions and have all around skills that compliment one another very well."
The Tigers found themselves trailing the Falcons 2-1 after three sets, but rallied for a 25-23 win in the fourth. The fifth and final set was equally thrilling, with Newberg emerging a 15-13 winner to take the match and solidify its fourth-place standing in the Pacific Conference.
"After Grace got hurt early in the third set the team came back stronger as a team to take the win," Upchurch said. "Grace showed true grit, and although in pain remained a vocal leader. Kaylie (Duckworth) did an impressive job of stepping up and supporting Grace's defensive efforts by taking on more court."
Giselle Benetti led the team with 18 kills on the night, with Brynna Geibel adding eight and Lauren Griswold dishing out 38 assists.
The Tigers placed second to Tigard in pool play Saturday, but dispatched the host Wildcats 25-22, 14-25, 18-16 in the opening round of bracket play. Newberg needed three sets to get past rival McMinnville 18-25, 25-23, 15-12 in the semifinals before falling 25-16, 25-19 to Mountainside in the finals.
Sydney Johnson and Duckworth filled in for Kassebaum and anchored the back line, registering 47 and 71 digs, respectively. Giselle once again led the offense with 40 kills and Griswold distributed more than 100 assists.
The Tigers (8-7, 4-3) are one game behind league co-leaders Sherwood, Glencoe and Century, who are all 5-2, and one game ahead of McMinnville (3-4) with five contests to go, but will easily qualify for the state playoffs as an at-large team if they can hold their ranking.
Newberg will play its last nonconference game of the season versus Heritage (Wash.) at 6:45 p.m. Thursday before traveling to play Sherwood Oct. 8.
Newberg 14, Lake Oswego 3 – Goalie Maile Walls made seven saves and Nikki Rubottom tallied three goals Sept. 26. Five other players scored two goals apiece for the Tigers.
Newberg 8, Forest Grove 0 –Hailey Day scored three goals for the Tigers Monday night in the road win.
St. Paul 59, Mohawk 8 – The Bucks (5-0, 4-0 Special District 1-North) strolled to a road win Friday night and will host Waldport (1-4, 1-2) at 7 p.m. Friday.
St. Paul 3, W. Valley Christian 0 – The Bucks rolled to a 25-9, 25-16, 25-13 road win Sept. 26.
McKenzie Tournament – The No. 1 Bucks (19-0) downed Reedsport 2-0 and Culver 2-0 in bracket play before besting Alsea 25-12, 25-10, 25-16 in the title game Saturday. Isabelle Wyss collected 34 kills and named tourney MVP.
Jefferson Invitational – Broden Lear was second overall in a PR time of 17:56 to lead the St. Paul boys to eighth place out of 14 teams with 208 points. Rachel Vela was ningh in 24:23 and Taysha Veeman 19th in 25:57, but the Bucks did not record a team score in the girls race.