Grant athletics wins four PIL titles in two-day stretch
Friday night ended a two-day stretch for Grant High athletics that resulted in plenty of hardware coming to the Generals.
Thanks to an overtime loss to Franklin by Jefferson football, the Generals secured the PIL title made easier by being at two games up on the third-place Democrats and having beaten second place Roosevelt.
The football title was only one of four to come Grant's way though from Thursday and Friday last week.
Comeback gives Grant volleyball title
For the five seniors on the Grant High volleyball team, a Portland Interscholastic League title has been a long time in the making.
Four years to be exact as many of those five have been four-year starters under head coach Erin Cole.
Thursday night, Oct. 21, at Lincoln High School, the Generals pulled it off in five sets over the Cardinals, 21-25, 25-9, 20-25, 25-16, 15-10, to finish off a wild league slate.
The PIL title will be split between Grant and Ida B. Wells as the two squads finished the league slate 14-2 after the Guardians defeated Cleveland 3-1 Thursday night. Grant and Wells split their two matches this season with the Generals winning the overall sets 5-3.
"It feels amazing, our team worked really, really hard this year to get where we are," Grant senior Maci Dahl said. "We just fought as a team tonight, and I'm really excited."
Fighting back was certainly needed as the Generals fell 2-1 against Lincoln, who came in tied with Grant and Wells at 13-2 in league and looking for a potential league title as well.
Cardinals senior Jillian Jendsen came out hot with eight kills in the first set. Meanwhile the back row defense was impeccable all night long with digs on the Generals' stable of hitters.
However, the fight was just a little stronger on the blue side as Grant (18-5, 14-2 PIL) took home a share of the PIL title, the first time in what Cole believes is "at least five years."
"A lot of these seniors I've had even before high school. I coached them in fifth, sixth grade, they've been in my youth program, I've coached them in club," Cole said. "For them and the whole team too, it's a really, really huge accomplishment for them."
Things started off wild for both sides as the officials stopped the match in the first set with Lincoln (13-8, 13-3 PIL) up 11-9 to address a broken light fixture in the Cardinals gym.
The officials determined the teams would have to move to the side court, pushing the left side of the gym bleachers back to make room for the match.
Then after falling behind 2-1, Grant turned it around behind the five senior leaders.
"I think the emotions were really high, especially because we have five seniors who are kind of like our coaches' babies," Dahl said. "I think we all just had the motivation to win and push to win."
Dahl led the way offensively for the Generals, racking up a team high 13 kills in the match with six of those coming in the final two sets.
The senior also got it done in the back row with 21 digs, second behind libero Libby Robbins' 29 digs.
Thanks to a three-team race, Lincoln already was locked into an automatic bid for the postseason with the top three teams from each league getting a spot in Class 6A.
Wells (19-5, 14-2 PIL) is on the bubble of a home game in the first round sitting at No. 17 in the OSAA rankings coming into Thursday night.
For Grant though, the win appears to have secured it a home match in the first round of the state playoffs as it sits at No. 12 in the OSAA rankings following the win over Lincoln. The Generals haven't had a home playoff match since 2009.
"I think there's a lot of emotions in a good way," Cole said. "We haven't had a home game in the 11 years I've been involved with the program. … It's really exciting to have their fans on their court."
The cutoff day for volleyball is Oct. 23 in Class 6A with the first round getting underway Oct. 27.
Grant girls soccer takes PIL
A day after its volleyball team took home a share of the PIL title, Grant High's soccer teams matched that feat.
At home, the girls took down Lincoln, who came in 5-0 in PIL play, 2-0 behind a goal each from Minami Powers and Caprial Loescher to capture the title.
For the No. 4 ranked Grant girls, taking down rival Lincoln and finishing the year 12-1-1 overall is a large accomplishment.
"We've been wanting this one for a few years now," Grant senior Elle Frazier said, also noting it was the Generals' first win over Lincoln during her four years. "I've been coming to watch Grant since I was little, and from what I know, this is one of the best seasons there's ever been."
Powers, a defender, got the scoring going early in the seventh minute when she launched a free kick nearly 40 yards right on goal and out of the outstretched arms of the Lincoln goalie.
Later, in the 30th minute, Loescher knocked one in from about 20 yards out in the middle of the field that went off the Cardinals' goalie's hands and into the net.
Those two goals leave Grant with 45 scored on the year, which currently would be the third most in Class 6A.
"I was aiming for the goal," Powers said on her deep shot. "I used to practice them (free kicks) a lot when I was younger and now, I got to the point where anywhere in the 25- to 35-yard range I just put it down and it kind of goes in. It worked out today."
However, what might be more impressive than the team goals number is the number of zeros the Generals have posted defensively.
Following their ninth shutout of the season on Lincoln, Grant gave up only six goals all year, the second fewest in 6A only behind Lake Oswego with three allowed.
"It's interesting because I have 28 people on the roster and we had to bring freshmen up because we had a lot of injuries, so we had to shuffle our defensive lineup quite a bit," Grant coach Manolis Tjuanakis said. "Throughout those changes, they were able to keep it together and I think it comes down to them being organized, also, something I'm very proud of … I have two very good goalkeepers."
Those two goalies are Abby Winkler and Michaela McCollum.
Both play every match with one getting one half of action, but no matter who's in net, the Grant defense knows they have someone who has their back.
"During practice, all of our shots that go in look really good but it's just because all of the ones that are even slightly off get saved because they're just so amazing," Powers said of the two goalies.
The offense has been led by Frazier, who scored 25 goals in the regular season.
Frazier, who is heading to play in an All-American game in Tennessee come December, is the driver of the offense — and it was easy to notice with the constant double-team the Cardinals placed on her Thursday.
"She's been on a goal tear, something we're very proud of is she's going to represent us in the ninth All-American high school game," Tjuanakis said. "I'm very proud of what she has done because throughout the years she's been on varsity she has moved to different positions, and she has performed well basically no matter where she's been played. Her and her (twin) sister Liv deserve huge credit for our success thus far."
Grant entered Thursday ranked No. 5 in the OSAA rankings, which will determine the seeds for the 32-team state bracket in 6A.
The Generals should stay in the top eight, meaning they could have two first-round matchups in the playoffs if they are able to survive round one.
Second half goal gives Grant boys title
Coming into Thursday, Grant and Lincoln High were first and second in the Portland Interscholastic League standings. The Generals were on top at 4-0-2 while the Cardinals were right behind at 4-1-1.
That made their matchup at Buckman the decided factor for the PIL title. A Grant win or tie gave the Generals while Lincoln needed a win.
Mitchel Munzing became the hero for Grant early in the second half when he scored a tough goal through many defenders for the only goal of the match.
"It was awesome," Munzing said. "It was a tough game but that one goal just felt terrific."
Now at 11-2-2 on the year overall, the Generals are currently No. 5 in the OSAA rankings, which are used for the seeding in the state tournament.
With the momentum of a PIL title behind it, Grant hopes to make a run an even bigger trophy: the Class 6A state title.
"We won the PIL today with this, hopefully this gets us up in the rankings and we'll be able to get a good run in the state championships," Munzing said. "Our goal is to win the whole thing."
Mt. Hood races
Central Catholic volleyball already won the Mt. Hood Conference the week prior, but the Rams still finished out the season in style with three sweeps over Barlow, Sandy and Reynolds. The Rams finish the season 16-0 in league play and 21-2 overall.
In girls soccer, Barlow secured the Mt. Hood title after taking down Nelson 4-1. The Bruins are 6-0-1 with one match left against Clackamas as of deadline.
However, the match won't affect the standings as 5-2 Central Catholic can't catch the Bruins, even if Barlow lost and the Rams won.
Mt. Hood boys soccer will be decided by games being played on Tuesday, post deadline.
Reynolds and Clackamas end the week both 5-1-1 in league play, but the Cavaliers are the Raiders' lone loss.
Clackamas ends the year at Barlow while Reynolds is at David Douglas.
Central Catholic and Centennial both have outside chances as well. If Reynolds and Clackamas both lose and Centennial takes down Gresham, the Eagles would take the title with a 6-2 record.
For Central Catholic, having lost to Centennial, the Rams would need all three teams to lose and then beat Nelson at home.
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