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NHS sports round-up: Boys and girls soccer, cross-country begin their seasons as well

GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - Despite a shorter roster than most, Newberg volleyball has been successful defending around the net this season.

With a pair of wins over Metro League schools and a tournament title under its belts, Newberg High School volleyball is riding a wave of early momentum into Pacific Conference play. The Tigers are 4-1 on the season and most recently finished first in the McKay Tournament in Salem.

The season started out with four-set victories over Southridge and Aloha on Sept. 3 and 5, a springboard into the McKay tourney that gave Newberg some confidence in their abilities.

"With Southridge, we started slower than I'd like to see, but the girls were really persistent and finished strong," Newberg coach Mackenzie Upchurch said. "Once they fell into a groove, we were able to close that out and make adjustments that led to our advantage.

"When the play looks easy, you know they're on to something. We've been able to take things nice and easy and progress as we go."GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - 
Senior Kaylie Duckworth took on libero duties for the entirety of Newberg's run in the McKay Tournament.

The tournament at McKay featured pool and bracket play for the Tigers and after a solid performance in pool play, they took on West Salem in the opening game. They lost 2-0, but bounced back with a 2-0 win over Grants Pass later in the day. That set up a rematch with West Salem in the tournament championship game.

The Tigers beat the Titans 2-1 to bring home a tournament title and cap off a quintet of non-league games with a record of 4-1. Newberg still has three tournament appearances sprinkled throughout this season, but the remainder of its other games will be in league play.

Upchurch expressed her pride in the Tigers' ability to respond and win important matches after suffering a loss.

"We had a really good day at McKay," she said. "In pool play, we split with Grants Pass, but we made the adjustments necessary and beat them in bracket play. It was the same pattern of events when we lost to West Salem: we knew what we needed to do coming into that championship match and we delivered.

"It speaks to the depth we have. I have a roster of 11 and we play consistently with 10, and nine of them are playing multiple positions. It speaks highly to their versatility and work ethic so far. They are committed to the overall success of the team."

Upchurch said the preseason schedule allowed Newberg to fine-tune some of the things it believed needed some work, including its defensive play.

Freshman Sophia Gregoire-Salagean led the team with 42 kills in the McKay tournament and was supplemented by 31 kills from senior Tori Petersen. Senior Kaylie Duckworth played libero for the entirety of the tourney and served 54 out of 55 with four aces.

Newberg was looking for a rhythm and they found it, Upchurch said. The team looked forward, she said, to a home game against Liberty – played after press time Tuesday night – and a road matchup with Century on Thursday. After that, the Tigers will participate in the Tualatin Tournament on Saturday.

"Our team goals are obtainable," Upchurch said. "But those girls are going to have to show up every day and fight for what they want. We're in a spot to finish really well, but one bad day can change everything, so they will have to remain focused."

Boys soccer picks up win; girls play two

Newberg boys soccer is 1-0 after a 1-0 victory over South Salem on Sept. 5. The Tigers played on the road at Beaverton on Tuesday night after press time and they look ahead to road games at La Salle on Thursday and reigning state champion Jesuit on Sept. 16.GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - Freshman midfielder Antonio Guadarrama jockeys with his opponent for the ball in Newberg's 1-0 win over South Salem last Thursday.

After the road tests, Newberg hosts Sunset at 7 p.m. Sept. 18 in Newberg.

The Tigers' girls soccer team has yet to win a game through two matches, sitting at 0-1-1 after tying Sprague 2-2 on Sept. 3 and losing to Reynolds 6-3 on Sept. 5. They hosted Madison on Tuesday night after press time and look forward to another home game against Southridge on Sept. 16.

Cross-country competes at Ultimook

Camping out in the woods near Tillamook, the Newberg boys and girls cross-country teams had a chance to bond and compete over the weekend. The team brought along a stable of high school and middle school runners to the Ultimook Races, which drew teams from around the state to the cheese capital of Oregon.

Senior Kendall McKibbon had the best finish among Newberg runners in the girls' 5,000 meter race, finishing 29th with a time of 21:53.88. For the boys in the same race, junior Asher Tatsumi finished 17th with a time of 17:39.01.

In the 3,000 meter novice race for the boys, Newberg shined with first place winner Tomoki Nakatani, a senior, who ran it in 11:37.47. Nakatani's teammate, freshman Finley Williams, finished fourth in a time of 11:50.90.

After trudging through the mud in Tillamook, the Tigers look ahead to a home meet Wednesday with rival McMinnville. The dual meet marks the first taste of Pacific Conference play for Newberg in the early part of its season.

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