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With set scores of 25-14, 25-22, and 25-22, the Cougars won the homecoming game and are now 4-4 in league play

GERVAIS, Ore—It was not an easy victory, but Gervais volleyball got an impressive win over a tough league foe. On Wednesday, Oct. 6 Gervais played host to visiting Culver and battled tooth and nail to sweep the visiting Bulldogs 3-0 (25-14, 25-22, 25-22).

The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Cougars and earned them their fourth league win of the season. Meanwhile Culver now finds itself in the midst of its own three-game skid and is now 5-3 in league play.

The game was a marked difference from the first time the two teams met. Gervais fell to Culver 3-1, with scores 25-19, 19-25, 16-25, and 19-25.

In the second matchup of the season this past Wednesday, Gervais found itself in trouble early in the first two sets. The Cougars fell behind in the first set 2-5 before battling to even the set at 9-9 and eventually 12-12. From there, timely blocks junior Josie Schultz and a solid serving stretch from junior Chloe Andres took the home team on a 13-2 run to close out the first set.

Gervais 1, Culver 0.

The message after the first set from head coach Molly McCargar was pretty simple: don't let up.

PMG PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Gervais junior, Izzy Boyd, serves the ball in the teams win over visiting Culver.

"Keep up the intensity," McCargar said. "They were fired up and they were excited, just keep playing the way you know how to play. They know how to play; they just have to have confidence in themselves."

The second set was much closer but followed a similar trajectory. Gervais this time was very slow coming out the gate, falling as far back as 2-10 before reclaiming the ball on an out of bounds Culver serve. Serving from Gervais senior Sarah Saalfeld started the comeback and kills from Schultz and sophomore Olivia Boyd Brought the team to a 10-16 score.

Once again, Andres found herself serving and went on a stretch of five serves that kept the Bulldogs unable to get a quality dig. Culver pulled away briefly, but Gervais was able to even the score at 18, then again at 22, before finally taking over and putting the set away 25-22.

Gervais 2, Culver 0.

The message after the second set was identical, and McCargar saw something in her team that had been missing at points prior: belief.

"They were finally starting to have faith and once you believe in yourself it can be hard to shut yourself down," McCargar said.

The third and final set saw Gervais start out as strong as they had all day, going 5-0 from the jump. Culver came roaring back to even the game at 5, then 6, then 9, and then eventually 10 before assuming control of the scoreboard with a 15-12 tally.

PMG PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Gervais junior, Josie Schultz, gets the block at the net in the teams win over visiting Culver.

Now it was Gervais's turn to play catch up.

The Cougars got quality kills when junior Izzy Boyd took advantage of serving errors to eventually take control of the board, once again, with the score 23-22. The final point of the game was as dramatic as they come. Gervais made three huge saves to keep the ball in play before eventually scoring the winning point and taking away the third set 25-22.

Gervais 3, Culver 0.

"I think they all collectively played well," McCargar said. "Josie did a great job at the net controlling the ball, had a few net mistakes but made up for them. Izzy kept swinging, I told her to keep swinging and don't lose the faith and she did. She had some hits when we needed them. And Olivia, her sister, same thing, solid, no mental mistakes."

The Cougars were without junior middle blocker Lilly McCargar during their homecoming game, and the absence of the veteran middle blocker made things all the more emotional for the home team.

"I think the girls' intensity and their hustles and the want to win was probably top two this season," McCargar said. "I think they had it for a lot of reasons. They wanted it for themselves, they wanted it for Lilly, it's homecoming and they wanted it for the school. I think the girls are finally feeling like they can do it and it showed tonight."

Gervais will have a chance to rest for a few days. The Cougars (4-4 in TRC, 5-10 overall) don't play next until Tuesday, Oct. 12 when they face Santiam (3-6 in TRC, 4-7 overall).

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