Tualatin tops Tigard in rivalry rematch
TIGARD — History didn't repeat itself.
The Tualatin High School volleyball team, behind an inspired effort, made sure of that.
And the Timberwolves were pretty happy about it, as well.
Tualatin, which fell to a huge Tigard rally in the first league match of the season, roared back to sweep the rival Tigers in the rematch, 25-17, 25-19, 25-17, in a Three Rivers League contest played Thursday at Tigard High School.
"We wanted to get redemption, and we did. We got it," Tualatin junior middle blocker Kylie Zralka said with a smile after the match. "I felt like we had a lot of energy, and that we really wanted to win. We had that mentality, and it showed."
"That first game, it was the first game of league, and we were at home. We came out really confident, but, then we just stopped talking," Tualatin senior setter Jackie Phillips said. "We didn't have that energy that we had tonight. It went really well. We're really working on our energy, and making sure we're having fun as we're playing."
With the loss, Tigard moved to 2-6 in TRL matches (4-9 overall), putting the Tigers in a tie with Lakeridge for sixth place in the league standings.
"I think we did pretty good," Tigard junior outside hitter Erin Bullard said. "We didn't come together as much as we wanted to. We definitely wish we had the same fight we did the first game of the season. That was a good game."
With the victory, Tualatin events its TRL record at 4-4 (6-6 overall), putting the Wolves in a tie with Lake Oswego for fourth place in the league standings.
"This was really important, especially for league and the rankings," Zralka said. "We just had the right mindset. I don't think we were all there the first game, we were like, 'OK, we're playing our rivals, oh no.' And, tonight, we were just more focused."
"This was super important," Phillips said. "I feel like this is the first time that we really played together well, and we worked together as a team. We were really able to string our defense and offense together."
For Phillips, in her fourth year on the Tualatin varsity, Thursday's match marked her final match against the rival Tigers.
"Someone pointed it out to me before the game, and I was like 'wait, what?'" Phillips said. "It was like that moment, and I was like, 'oh my God, it really is the last time,' and it was good."
Phillips, and her Tualatin teammates, got off to a strong start to Thursday's match. Following an ace serve by Timberwolf senior Olivia Ashley, Tualatin held a 9-2 lead in the opening set of the contest. The Wolves went on to push the lead to 11-3 on a kill by Zralka, coming off a set by Phillips.
The Tigers came battling back. A pair of kills each by Bullard and sophomore Kaitlynn Peterson helped Tigard trim the margin to 20-16. But the Tigers couldn't get any closer.
Tualatin got a sideout kill by sophomore Jamie Jacobs and followed that up with an ace by sophomore Josie Phillips to quickly push the lead to 22-16. From there, the Wolves closed out the 25-17 first-set victory.
Tualatin got off to another strong start in the second set. The Wolves grabbed a 6-3 lead following a kill by Jacobs off a set by Josie Phillips. The Tualatin lead was at 13-6 following a kill by Ashley, but, again, the Tigers came battling back.
With Peterson serving, Tigard trimmed the lead to 13-11. Then, with sophomore Sera Reilly serving, the Tigers got consecutive kills by Bullard, Peterson and sophomore Anna Follett to cut the margin to 16-15.
"I was really fired up," Bullard said. "They're our rivals, and it's always exciting to play them, especially since I know a couple girls on their team."
Again, Tualatin answered the Tigard challenge. Ashley started things off with an ace. A pair of kills by Zralka, off sets by Jackie Phillips, and a tip by Josie Phillips helped the Wolves up the margin to 20-15. A block by Ashley closed out Tualatin's 25-19 second-set victory.
Tualatin, again, started strong in the third set. The Wolves, getting a point on a play following an amazing diving dig by senior libero Bella Valdes, took a quick 4-1 lead.
The lead went up to 8-3, following a kill by Zralka, but Tigard, once again, came fighting back. An ace by Reilly helped the Tigers cut the lead to 8-7.
But, again, the Wolves answered the challenge. A kill and a tip by Zralka, and back-to-back aces by Ashley gave Tualatin an 18-11 cushion. Zralka took over from there. She had three kills to help push the lead to 24-16.
"I think I make a presence on the court, and everyone just kind of goes to me for some things," Zralka said.
Jackie Phillips, with an ace serve, wrapped up the 25-16 third-set win, giving the Wolves the sweep.
"This was super fun," Phillips said. "I'm still smiling, and I don't think I was ever not smiling during the game. I'm glad this happened in my last Tigard game."
"This was super fun," Zralka said. "We had a lot of energy, and our fans were great. I think that had a big impact."
Tualatin is now hoping to carry on the momentum in gained from the impressive victory.
"It's a lineup we've been working with, and it's been going well," Jackie Phillips said. "We really have been meshing well together, lately. It was a really good win, and when we lost momentum, we didn't get sucked it. We were able to get out of it."
Both teams return to league play on Tuesday. Tualatin will be home to face Lakeridge, and Tualatin travels to West Linn for matches starting at 6:30 p.m. Next Thursday, Tigard will host Canby and Tualatin will play at Lake Oswego in league matches starting at 6:30 p.m.
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