Sherwood will play for a state-tournament bid on Saturday

by: DAN BROOD - WE WIN -- The Sherwood High School volleyball team gathers after scoring the winning point in its 25-14, 25-10, 25-17 victory over Roosevelt in a Class 5A play-in match held Tuesday at Sherwood. SHERWOOD — The youthful Sherwood High School volleyball team got off to a bit of a slow start to the 2013 season.

How things have changed since then.

Now the Lady Bowmen are only one win away from qualifying to play in the Class 5A state tournament.

Sherwood earned the opportunity to play for a state-tourney bid by powering its way to a 25-10, 25-14, 25-17 win over Roosevelt in a Class 5A play-in game held Tuesday at Sherwood High School.

“The season has been good,” Sherwood junior setter Mallory Shields said after the match. “I think we got better every game. We turned it around. I’m excited for Saturday.”

“I fell like our team has come a long way,” Sherwood coach Emily Gustafson said. “We’re happy to get to the playoffs. Now, we have to prepare for one more match.”

Roosevelt, the No. 4 team out of Special District 2, finished its season with a final overall record of 7-9. Sherwood, the No. team out of the Northwest Oregon Conference, improved to 12-8 on the season. The Lady Bowmen also advance to play Corvallis, the No. 2 team out of the Mid-Willamette Conference, in a Class 5A state playoff game set to start at 10 a.m. Saturday at Corvallis High School. The Spartans knocked Sherwood out of the state playoffs last year.

“We’re going to need to focus,” said Sherwood freshman outside hitter Sarah Penner, who turned in a strong performance in Tuesday’s match. “We’re going to need to be at our best.”

The winner of Saturday’s game advances to play in the Class 5A state tournament, which will be held Nov. 8-9 at Liberty High School.

“That would be huge for us,” Shields said of getting to the state tournament. “Since the beginning of the season, that’s been our main goal. I think we have a chance. I think we can win.”

“Our goal is to get to Liberty,” Gustafson said.

In Tuesday’s match with Roosevelt, the Lady Bowmen had to overcome a bit of adversity before the contest even started, as junior middle blocker Britnie Jacobsen came down ill prior to pregame warm-ups and wasn’t able to play.

“We had to adjust,” Gustafson said. “But the girls played well with the new lineup. They rose to the occasion.”

The teams were tied at 3-3 in the first set of the match when the Lady Bowmen took charge. With junior Lena Cottrell serving, Sherwood scored four straight points, including a pair of ace serves, a kill by Penner off a set by Shields and a tip by Shields.

Soon after, with Penner serving, the Lady Bowmen went on another scoring spree. This time, Sherwood scored five straight points, including another ace and a kill by senior Hannah Valesano, to up its lead to 13-4.

An ace serve by Shields and a kill by junior Taylor Hubbard off a set by Shields helped Sherwood up the lead to 21-6. From there, kills by senior Alex Hubbard and Penner helped the Lady Bowmen close out the 25-10 first-set win.

The second set was very similar to the first set. This time, the score was tied at 6-6 when the Lady Bowmen took control.

With Penner serving, Sherwood scored 10 unanswered points, including an ace by Penner and a block and a kill by Valesano, to take a 16-6 advantage.

From there, an ace by Shields and a kill by Penner helped Sherwood put away the 25-14 second-set victory.

There was a little more drama in the third set of the match.

A pair of aces by Cottrell and a kill by Penner off a set by Shields helped the Lady Bowmen take an early 5-3 lead. But Roosevelt rallied to go up by a 9-7 margin.

However, the Bowmen would come back and claim the lead for good. With Shields serving, Sherwood got an ace, a block by Alex Hubbard, and a block and kill by Valesano to take a 12-9 lead.

Sherwood pushed the margin to 15-10 following a block by Taylor Hubbard.

Roosevelt trimmed the lead to 17-14, but the Roughriders weren’t able to get any closer.

A tip by senior Charity Doyel, a kill by Valesano, a block by Shields and an ace by Shields helped the Lady Bowmen close out the 25-17 third-set win, clinching the victory.

The combination of Shields setting for Penner seemed to help Sherwood get the postseason victory.

“I was a new setter at the beginning of the season, and she’s adjusted well,” Shields said.

“We communicate well,” Penner said. “And I’m having a lot of fun. I love my teammates.”

The winner of Saturday’s match at Corvallis will meet either Sandy or West Albany Nov. 8 in a Class 5A state tournament quarterfinal game set to start at 1:15 p.m. at Liberty High School.

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