Sandy wins thriller at Barlow, punches playoff ticket
Mount Hood Conference
GRESHAM — Sandy's volleyball team raced through the final week of the regular season with a three-game win streak, highlighted by a five-set win over Barlow.
After seeing Barlow tie the score three times in the early stages of the fifth set, the Pioneers unleashed Annika Traxler, who pounded out five kills in seven volleys. She started the barrage by splitting a pair of diving Bruins in the back row, added a sharp-angled kill through the front row and spun down another kill on the far corner. By the end of the rally, Sandy would have Barlow doubled up 12-6 on the scoreboard and sit just three points from victory.
"Me and my setter were just clicking," Traxler said. "It's like you are on fire and nothing is going to stop you."
Sandy went on its finishing charge when Savannah Lomen banged a kill off a Bruins' block in the middle, and Josie Jansen put up a wall to turn back Barlow's next attack. On match point, Sydney Brewster put up a block, which left the ball floating over the middle for Jansen to slam home for the 15-8 win.
"We practice that all the time, getting on top of the ball and snapping it down," Jansen said. "It was nice to go out with a bang."
After splitting the first two sets, Sandy gained the upper hand by winning a hotly-contested third set that saw six lead changes.
Sandy libero Makayla Barton made a diving save down the line, keeping the ball up for Brewster to bury a kill into the middle for a 19-18 lead.
"I do my best to go for everything," Barton said. "I just keep thinking that I'm going to get that ball."
The margin expanded to three points when Barlow sent a free ball over the net that Sandy turned into a quick point when Barton passed it into the front row for Chloe Bierbrauer, who left a perfect set for Brewster to come through with a big swing.
The Pioneers thought they had reached set point when Brewster swung through on the left side for what was initially ruled a kill. But after a discussion among the officials, the call was overturned. Point Barlow.
A fired up Brewster would leave no doubt on her next attack, flying down the left side and pounding a winner clean down the line to put Sandy in command 24-20.
Two points later, Jansen converted set point with a rocket shot that knocked Barlow's libero back on her heels, while the ball deflected into the back wall.
Barlow bounced back to take the fourth set when Sandy sent a ball long.
Through four sets the teams were deadlocked 91-91 in points.
Both squads advanced to the 6A playoffs, which begin Wednesday, Oct. 30.
Barlow was the last team into the field and travels to No. 1-ranked Jesuit in the first round, while Sandy also draws a Metro League foe with a trip to No. 7 Sunset.
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This story is slated for our Oct. 30, print edition.
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