Jesuit volleyball settles for second after four-set loss to Sheldon
It wasn't Jesuit's night. You'd could argue it wasn't their tournament. But you can't say it wasn't their season, for despite the Crusaders falling to Sheldon in the 6A State Volleyball Championship Saturday night, Nov. 5, at Forest Grove High School, 2022 was still a great year for Jesuit High School volleyball.
"It was a great season," Jesuit head coach Teresa Zimmerlee said after the match. "It's hard to go 33-1 and these kids are just really good to each other. Sheldon was just better than us tonight."
And they were. After dropping the first set 25-23 to the top-seeded Crusaders, the Irish defended better, set better, and unquestionably finished better at the net en route to winning the final three sets 25-20, 25-21, and 25-15.
The volleyball title was the first in program history for Sheldon, and one—per their coach—built on love.
"This team's goal was to be here and to work as hard as they can, and not leave anything else," Sheldon head coach Martine Wodke said. "This team knew how good Jesuit was but they fought all year to be here, and they played with so much love and excitement for each other. They just love each other and it showed."
As much as that love showed on the Sheldon side, something seemed to be missing from the Crusaders from the tip of their quarterfinal with Sprague a day prior.
Jesuit entered the tournament undefeated and having not lost a set all season, but dropped the first two to Sprague, and two to Nelson in the semifinals before narrowly winning both in the fifth set. That wasn't lost on senior standout Isabel Patterson who said something just seemed off over the team's last couple of weeks.
Patterson—who was a second team all-tournament team selection—credited Sheldon for simply outplaying the Crusaders and was genuinely "excited for them" in the wake of their historic victory, but at the same time had a hard time pin-pointing what had been plaguing and did plague her team during their recent struggles.
"I think our fight just wasn't there tonight," Patterson said. "We made some unforced errors but that's also the game and sometimes just the way the ball bounces. I think we've definitely been in a funk the past couple weeks and we worked really hard to push past it, but it's hard to put a finger on."
Sheldon was led by the quartet of Kait Wood, Gwen Fife, Jordan McKibben and Beaux Bruegman who combined for 56 kills. Bruegman also tallied 20 digs.
Jesuit was led by Patterson who notched 13 kills, while fellow senior CeAnna O'Loughlin had a team-high 18 kills and 11 digs.
Zimmerlee pointed to her team's service return as a point of concern during the match and said that led to some of their issues against the Irish. But in the end said it was really more about what Sheldon did do, opposed to what Jesuit didn't—on this night.
"Early, we passed decent and put the ball down, but then started breaking down a little bit as our service return kind of suffered," the Crusaders coach said. "But Sheldon came out, didn't make many mistakes, and they were ready to go."
In the end, the coach said she was proud of her team and what they'd accomplished this year despite falling a win short of their goal. And Patterson agreed, speaking to her affection for her team and season which now is in the past.
"I have so much love for everyone on this team," she said. "Our team is so talented. Everyone on the bench, everyone on the court, they all push us at practice every day and help us get better. I wouldn't have wanted to do it with any other group."
Westview, who defeated Roseburg in the state quarterfinals despite playing without arguably their best player, Alize' Bakker, due to injury, dropped their semifinal to Sheldon and finished fifth after falling to Nelson in the tournament's third place game.
"Walking away with a fifth place trophy this year is amazing in general and even more special if you look at the adversity we had to overcome as a team to make the tournament and then get a win against Roseburg," Westview head coach Janelle Brandt said. "Now, I feel that Westview is on the map and we will keep working hard each year to get back there."
6A All-Tournament Team
Beaux Bruegman, 12, Sheldon
Katherine Clevenger, 12, South Medford
Paige Thies, 10, Oregon City
Elle Bruegman, 12, Sheldon
Kennedy Cheung, 12, Westview
Kalista Lukovich, 12 Nelson
Madi Andrews, 9, Nelson
Isabel Patterson, 12, Jesuit
Jackie Carle, 10, Jesuit
Kinsey Brelage, 12, Roseburg
CeAnna O'Loughlin, 12, Jesuit
Hayden Pinard, 12, Roseburg
Nelson High School
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