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Newberg High School sports round-up: Soccer and cross-country teams in action as well

Ten games into the 2019 season, the Newberg High School volleyball team is emerging as the top varsity team at the school. The Tigers are 8-2 on the season, 2-0 in the Pacific Conference and were No. 9 in the OSAA 6A volleyball rankings as of Tuesday morning.GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - Junior outside hitter Brynna Geibel gets a mitt on the ball during Newberg's 3-0 win over Liberty.

Newberg won eight of its first nine matches and had a six-match winning streak going before its most recent tilt – a loss to 5A powerhouse Wilsonville in the championship game of the Tualatin Tournament on Saturday. Prior to that, it beat Grants Pass, West Salem, Liberty, Century, Lincoln and McMinnville during the streak.

"Going into league play, we were looking pretty strong in preparation for some tough games ahead," NHS coach Mackenzie Upchurch said. "We did a really good job in the last few games of reducing the number of errors we saw in preseason and looking for additional opportunities to increase our momentum offensively.

"The losses we had were strong. It was good, competitive play – you can't win them all and I think we learned something from those losses. Ultimately, it was good for us to play at that level."

The second set of Newberg's loss to Wilsonville was highly competitive, but the Tigers ultimately fell 27-25 to drop the tournament championship game. But to get to that point when facing a competitive field is a testament to the team's resolve and hard work, Upchurch said.

Newberg previously faced Wilsonville in pool play of the tournament and lost by an even greater margin, so Upchurch said the improvement made from match to match is "encouraging." She added she believes the senior-laden team, which boasts plenty of depth, is playing up to its potential.

"Going into the season, I set some high expectations, so we are certainly meeting them now," Upchurch said. "I think there's still room to improve – and for anyone that's competitive, you have to always have a growth mindset and strive to be the best. I'm just so proud of how they come to work and showcase their work ethic and integrity."

The Tigers are in the thick of Pacific Conference play now, looking ahead to a road game at Sherwood on Wednesday and a home game against Forest Grove on Sept. 24. After that, Newberg will face McMinnville on the road Sept. 26 before trekking to Beaverton to participate in the Westview Tournament on Sept. 28.

Upchurch said Newberg's senior class – and the supplementary underclassmen – has high expectations for league play and looks forward to facing top competition at the Westview tourney. All of the other Pacific Conference teams are struggling in the early part of the season, but the Tigers aren't resting on their laurels.

"(A league title) is certainly our goal," Upchurch said. "I think it really depends on the matchups with each school. We're only a week into league play, so right now everything is pretty open. We just have to maintain this level of play and anything is possible."

Boys, girls soccer teams on losing streaks

After opening the season with a narrow victory over South Salem, the NHS boys soccer squad is struggling. The Tigers (1-3) have lost three consecutive road games over the past week and will return home this Wednesday.GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - Senior goalkeeper Ashleigh Rickert goes up to stop a shot versus Madison last week at home.

Newberg lost 3-2 to Beaverton, 2-1 to La Salle and 2-0 to reigning state champion Jesuit. This Wednesday's home game is against Sunset, which comes into the contest at 3-1-1 on the season. After that game, Newberg will play Cleveland on the road Sept. 24 before a trio of home games against Southridge, Benson and Forest Grove.

The Tigers' girls team notched a 2-2 draw in its first game of the year with Sprague, but is also on a three-game losing skid. Newberg lost 6-3 at Reynolds, 2-0 against Madison and 5-0 against Southridge – all in the last week.

Coach Anthony Trejo's squad will be on the road at perennial state contender Westview on Wednesday, then host Centennial on Sept. 24. Its non-league schedule wraps up with a road game at Tualatin Sept. 26 and a home game against Aloha on Sept. 30.

Cross-country beats McMinnville

The Newberg cross-country team hosted its Yamhill County rivals on Sept. 11 as it faced McMinnville. Both the boys and girls varsity squads won by close margins and had top three finishers in the 5,000-meter races.

On the boys' side, the Tigers won with 27 points compared with McMinnville's 29. They did so led by juniors Asher Tatsumi and Jonathan Rolfe, who finished second and third, respectively, with times of 17:08.83 and 17:13.77. McMinnville freshman Kellen Reed finished first in 17:03.22.

For the girls, seniors Kendall McKibbon and Abigail Hein led the charge in a 26-point effort while McMinnville trailed behind with 31. McKibbon and Hein finished 1-2 in the race with times of 20:57.81 and 21:39.46.

Newberg will make the trip up to Hillsboro on Saturday for the Meriwether Cross Country Classic at Meriwether National Golf Club. After that, the Tigers will participate in a Pacific Conference dual meet at Glencoe on Sept. 25.

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