Sherwood turns back Newberg in pivotal volleyball test
The first place Pacific Conference Sherwood volleyball team made it pretty clear to Newberg, their coach, and the fans in attendance that's it time to step it up, defeating the second place Tigers in straight sets Wednesday, Oct. 6, at Sherwood High School.
With just four matches remaining in the regular season prior to their contest with Newberg (14-5, 5-3), and with just a one game lead, Sherwood head coach Jenette Brotnov knew that on this night she and her team would learn a lot about their prospects going forward with a potential league championship and the state playoffs on the horizon.
"This means a lot," Brotnov said. "The girls have fought really hard to achieve this season and in the past few games, but we haven't seen so many top teams lately. So, the fact that they came out with a big win tonight proves that they're ready to take on some top teams during state."
Despite the straight set win 25-14, 27-25, and 25-10, there was nothing easy about the Bowmen's victory. Newberg junior outside hitter Sophia Gregoire-Salagean created problems for Sherwood both at the net and in the back, tallying 16 kills and a handful of blocks, while at the same time digging and setting from the middle. But while Gregoire-Salaean did her damage, it was a couple timely Sherwood blocks by junior Caitlin Kirkpatrick that turned the tide in the pivotal second set.
With Sherwood (15-3, 8-1) leading one-set-to-none, but with the Tigers inching towards a second set victory, twice Kirkpatrick stuffed the Newberg standout, igniting both the Bowmen team and their vibrant student section en route to a 27-25 win.
"That was huge," Brotnov said. "Shutting a big hitter like that down is such a big lift. She had some big blocks during some close points that really helped our team out."
Kirkpatrick wasn't much about any individual accolades after-the-fact, but she was cognizant of her contribution and pleased with her ability to help her team in what proved to be a very big moment in the match.
"Number 10 (Gregoire-Salaean) is a really big hitter," Kirkpatrick said, "But it really helps boost morale when you can get blocks like that and I'm glad it's something I can do to help contribute to the team."
Kirkpatrick finished with four blocks, with five kills to go with them. Sherwood seemed to get contributions from across the court, getting seven kills from Rylee Perlmutter, six from Aria Birdsong, six more from Liv Van Austen, and leadership from senior defensive specialist Gianna Friendly who always seemed to be in the right place at the right time for the Bowmen.
"She's (Friendly) the glue that holds us together," Brotnov said. "When she's on, I feel like our team is on, and when she makes big plays it really gets our whole team going."
Brotnov also believes â€“ for good and bad â€“ her team tends to play to the level of their competition, but with the postseason nearing she's confident they'll be ready to go when the stakes rise.
"When we play higher ranked teams we seem to pick up our level of play," the Sherwood coach said. "Seeing that gives me confidence, and I know we'll be ready to go come playoffs."
Kirkpatrick sees things similarly and believes she and her teammates are peaking at the right time.
"It's been a long season, but we're coming together and it's going to be great going forward," she said. "I'm excited for what's to come."
Player of the Game
Newberg's Sophia Gregoire-Salagean. Despite being on the wrong end of the final result, the junior stood out with both her power and skill.
Play of the Game
Sherwood's Caitlin Kirkpatrick's second-set block with score tied 25-25, which was the first of two points necessary to ice the set.
The Sherwood student section brought their A-game to the match, sporting attire, holding signs, and heightening the volume when it mattered most.
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