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Sunset rallies from a deficit early in the third set to complete the playoff sweep

PMG PHOTO: DAVID BALL - Sandy hitter Annika Traxler prepares to jump at the edge of the net.

First-round playoff

Team Score
Sunset (25, 25, 25)
Sandy (17, 19, 15)

BEAVERTON — Sandy's volleyball season came to an end Wednesday, but not without a fight. The Pioneers saved their best volleyball for late in the match, but host Sunset answered the challenge to complete the 25-17, 25-19, 25-15 sweep.

The Apollos were on cruise control with Sandy doubled up on the scoreboard 18-9 midway through the middle set before the Pioneers picked up the fight.

Sandy libero Makayla Barton bumped a ball high backward over her head to set up Annika Traxler for a kill from the antennae that prompted Sunset to call a timeout with its lead trimmed to five points.

Sandy broke the huddle and kept rolling with Pammeigh Carter spiking a ball from the left side that sent a pair of Apollos chasing off the court. Sunset managed to send the ball back over, but the court was left wide open for 6-foot-2 Josie Jansen to pound a kill through the middle.

The Pioneers were within 18-16.

Sunset responded by winning seven of the next 10 points to put a stranglehold on the match up two sets to none.

Krista Santos turned the momentum around rising up high for a block in the middle, and an ace from Sam King helped the Apollos close in on set point.

Sandy appeared to stay alive when rookie Sydney Brewster sent an attack down the line. The point was initially given to the Pioneers, but after a brief conference among the line judges the ruling was reversed.

"Sandy has a lot of good hitters, but we were focused on every ball because we knew this could be our last match," Santos said.

PMG PHOTO: DAVID BALL - Sandy setter Chloe Bierbrauer tries to reaach a ball in the front row after Sunsets Birdie Zevenberger rises high for a block.

The Pioneers still had some fight left, riding a Traxler kill down the line to a quick 4-1 lead in the third set.

But Sandy's only edge of the night was soon erased when Santos hit an ace that deflected off two Pioneers to knot the score.

Sunset went on a seven-point surge, gaining command of the match.

Sandy tried to climb back into contention down 17-13 when Jansen came up with a block in the middle that beat a pair of Apollos to the floor.

But that was as close as Sandy would get.

Zevenbergen made match point imminent with back-to-back blocks. The first fell cleanly on Sandy's side of the net, and the second resulted in a lift violation by the Pioneers.

Sandy hit its next attack long, and King ended the night with an ace.

The Apollos went unchallenged in the first set, breaking in front 11-2 after Brezlyn Langer and Sydney Hankel came up with blocks at each antennae.

The lead grew to 18-5 when Hankel dived out of the back row to keep a Sandy serve off the floor. While the ball spun over the net, Hankel got back to her feet in time to spike the Apollos' next attack down for a winner.

Hankel kept swinging. This time taking off from the 10-foot line to kill a ball off a Sandy block to bring up set point.

The Pioneers stayed alive for three rallies, and engaged Sunset in another long volley that saw the ball clear the net at least a dozen times before the chair official whistled a Sandy player for touching the net to end the opening set.

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This story is slated for our Nov. 6, print edition.

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