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Huskies beat Woodburn, go on to win silver bracket at Cascade tournament on Saturday

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - At 4-0 after the first week, Katie Ensign and the North Marion Huskies are off to their best start in more than a decade.The North Marion volleyball team got off to a great start, going undefeated through their season opener and first tournament without losing a single set.

And the team hasn't even played a home game yet.

The Huskies had a three-set sweep over the Woodburn Bulldogs 25-9, 25-15, 25-19 on Sept. 3, followed by winning the silver bracket at the Cascade tournament on Saturday with three more victories.

"We still need to work on some things if we want to accomplish our goals," Sophomore Jayden Sahlin said after last week's win over the Bulldogs. "We were getting there, pieces."

Against the Bulldogs, the Huskies came out strong, scoring five consecutive early points with junior Liliana Piercey at service to take a 6-1 lead in the opening set. North Marion ended the set by scoring nine of the final 10 points to finish with their biggest win of the night.

But the Bulldogs responded in the second set, scoring the first five points and taking an early 7-3 lead to put the Huskies on the defensive.

"I think we're getting there," Woodburn junior Yamileth Rios said. "We're hustling, and it's going to be an amazing season this year."

North Marion found its rhythm and responded with seven straight points to go up 10-7, only to have Woodburn retake the lead 11-10.

That's when Sahlin took over at service, and led the Huskies on a decisive run, notching 13 straight points to go up 23-11 and all but ensure victory. Woodburn made a small four-point rally, but North Marion capped the set with two points to go up 2-0.

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Despite the 0-3 start to the season, Woodburn junior Yamileth Rios is confident this years team can pick up an elusive victory for the Bulldog volleyball program this year."We were trying to build a lead, because we had a closer game," Sahlin said on her serving. "We wanted to separate the points a little more."

In the final set, the Huskies leaned on their reserve players to finish the game, giving them some valuable live-action experience. Woodburn was up for the challenge; trading points back and forth to go up 8-7. North Marion took the lead for good after that, but the Bulldogs continued to press and got within 24-19 before the Huskies closed things out.

"They always have positive energy on the bench," Sahlin said of her teammates in the third set. "For them to come in, have that same positive energy and bring that into the game, it was just a good refresher to play with different people and to learn how to play with other teammates."

Following the game, Woodburn went on to host Junction City on Thursday, losing 3-0 (25-9, 25-15, 25-14). Despite the loss, the Bulldogs remain positive on the season and are looking forward to breaking the program's years-long streak of non-tournament losses.

"I think this season is going to be such a different season from past seasons," Rios said. "We might actually win a game after (10) years."

Meanwhile, the Huskies went on to a successful weekend at Cascade, winning 2-0 sets against Seaside (25-16, 25-19), Molalla (25-18, 25-10) and Newport (25-20, 25-19).

The No. 5 Huskies (4-0) were scheduled to host Banks (2-0) in their home-opener on Tuesday and will conclude the week at No. 9 Seaside (5-3).

Woodburn (0-3) was scheduled to play at No. 1 Sweet Home (4-0) on Tuesday for their Oregon West Conference opener and will return home to host Madras (0-2) on Thursday.

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