Nelson volleyball stays hot, sweeps past Sandy 3-0
They're making some noise over at Nelson.
"They," in this case, are the members of the first-year Nelson volleyball team at the new Happy Valley high school. And as for the noise, the Hawks have practically shouted their arrival in Mt. Hood Conference play, racing out to a 9-1 league record and giving conference-leading Central Catholic a run for its money.
Nelson proved itself again on Thursday, Sept. 30, coming back from a slow start to accelerate past Sandy 25-21, 25-10 and 25-13 at Nelson High School.
"After the first set, we knew that we needed to force them to take the first timeout and take them out of system. We needed to get … a lead and then just keep going from there," said Nelson junior outside hitter Kali Lukovich, who led her team in kills against Sandy.
"I think (the key was that) we just started playing as a team more, and we trusted each other a lot more and we started working together more than we did at the beginning," said senior setter Ellie Wallace.
With the Hawks' fifth straight win, Nelson improved to 9-1 in MHC play and 11-4 overall. Meanwhile, Sandy lost for the fourth straight time — including a five-setter against Gresham the night before — and fell to 3-7 in conference play and 3-9 overall.
After the match, the Pioneers knew where they'd fallen short against Nelson.
"The first set, we definitely had way more energy than the next two," said Sandy junior middle blocker Sydney Brewster, who led her team in kills. "(After that), we were being selfish, and we weren't playing as a team. We were playing as individuals, and we weren't working together. Then our energy was down because we lost the first set. We didn't take into account that we could still win the (match)."
"I think we wanted to win in the beginning, but then the energy started to go down the more we fell behind," added junior middle blocker Brooke Womack. "I think we are kind of playing as individuals on the court right now — we need to play more as six people as one."
While Nelson took the second and third sets easily, Sandy pushed the Hawks all the way to the end in the first. Indeed, neither team led by more than three points until the final point of the set, with the Pioneers up 10-7 on a three-point run served by senior Brooklyn Starley, and the Hawks ahead 19-16 and 20-17.
Sandy closed within 20-19 on an ace by senior Emma Hall and 22-21 on a crosscourt kill from Womack, but saw Nelson pull away to win on a kill by sophomore Ava Maciag, a Pioneer hitting error and a Lukovich ace. Lukovich had five kills and Maciag four in the first set, while Brewster had three kills and a block.
The Pioneers were close early in the second set, too, but Nelson put together a six-point run to lead 9-3 — getting two aces from senior Avery Bergers —Â boosted its edge to 14-4 on a Lukovich kill set by Wallace and just kept going.
Nelson finished the set at 25-10 on an ace from sophomore Morgan Armitage. Lukovich added another three kills and an ace in the set, while junior Maddie Abraham had three kills. Brewster had two blocks for Sandy.
The third set provided more of the same, with Nelson coming back from a 6-4 deficit by scoring 14 of the next 20 points to lead 21-10, with Maciag and Lukovich notching three kills each in that stretch while Bergers added two aces.
From there, Lukovich tacked on three more kills and a Sandy hitting error ended the match at 25-13.
"Today was really good," Lukovich said of her connection with Wallace. "We've played together for a long time, so we have that trust and the communication at fixing things."
On their side of the net, the Pioneers knew they just needed to keep their energy up.
"After having three matches in one week (and) … after a five-set game last night, it was just hard to come back," Womack added "We were kind of tired and our energy was low."
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