Sandy stumbles against Clackamas
Mount Hood Conference
Sandy's volleyball team started fast, but was unable to finish in a straight-set loss to Clackamas last Tuesday.
Clackamas completed a sweep of the season series with a 25-23, 25-21, 25-22 win in Sandy.
Senior outside hitter Isabelle Combs led Clackamas with 11 kills and seven digs, and freshman opposite hitter Kalista Lukovich added seven kills and three blocks to help the Cavaliers lock up one of the top two spots in the league race with three games left in the regular season.
"We struggled at the start, but nobody checked out," Combs said. "The energy was very positive and everyone had that 'next-ball' mentality. I think that's what kept us playing at such a high level through all three sets."
The Pioneers finished the week with a two-game lead over Barlow in the race for the league's third and final automatic berth into the 6A playoffs.
"A loss this late in the season shows us that we haven't reached the peak yet," Sandy coach Lihau Perreira said. "We haven't reached the top of the mountain yet. We have that much more to go, right?
The Pioneers hit the floor running as they raced out to a 7-0 lead in the first set.
Chloe Bierbrauer had the serve during Sandy's match-opening run that was highlighted by a Josie Jansen block for a point, a Sydney Brewster tip, a Jansen kill, and another Jansen block, followed by a Clackamas timeout.
The break in the action served as a wake-up call for the Cavaliers, who scored the first point after the timeout and then chipped away at the Sandy lead.
Clackamas tied the first set at 12-12 when a Sandy shot landed out of bounds, and then Christin Kwon served up an ace to give the Cavaliers their first lead, 13-12.
From there, the lead changed hands three times and Sandy went back on top 21-18 before the Cavaliers closed on a 7-2 run, putting the set away on a Pioneers' service error.
Clackamas never trailed in the second set, opening leads of 10-6, 18-10, and 21-16 before Jaiden Eubanks drove the ball off two Sandy blockers and out of play for game point.
In the third set, there were 11 ties and six lead changes before Sandy's Annika Traxler put down a kill that tied the match for the 12th time at 18-18. Clackamas then reeled off the next three points, sparking a 7-5 run that ended with Britney Eickhoff setting Combs for a match-ending kill.
The Pioneers had their moments, but struggled to rekindle the fire that they had to start the first set.
"Mentally, we just weren't there when we needed to be," said Bierbrauer, Sandy's junior setter. "Clackamas started changing up their shots and throwing in a lot more tips and chips and using our blockers to their advantage. We needed to adjust sooner. Actually, we adjusted toward the end, the games were super close, and we fought hard, but in the end, we didn't finish."
Perreira saw two different Sandy teams Tuesday — the one that jumped out to a 7-0 lead and the one that spent the latter part of all three sets playing catch-up.
"What happened was they had their foot on the gas to start the match and they got up 7-0," Perreira said. "Then they got to a point when they felt, 'Ahh, we're good,' and they took their foot off the gas and put it in neutral. When you do that, you're going to lose games."
Perreira also had spent a good portion of Monday's practice talking to her players about "the difference between being interested and being committed."
"If you're interested in something, you're like, 'All right, I'll show up, I'll play, and I'll do it on my terms,'" she said. "But when you're committed to something, you're trusting in the process, you're trusting what the coaches are saying, and you're trusting the girls that are next to you."
Sandy bounced back to finish the week with a four-set win at Centennial, squeezing through the pivotal third set by a 25-23 count.
This story is slated for our Oct. 23, sports front.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.