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The Lions win a berth in the state semifinals but fall to eventual state champion Jesuit

TIDINGS PHOTO: MILES VANCE - West Linn senior libero Ellie Snook leads cheers during her team's 3-1 quarterfinal win over Sheldon at the Class 6A state tournament at Liberty High School on Friday.The West Linn volleyball team's goals were pretty simple this year.

The Lions wanted to win the Three Rivers League again, win another berth to the Class 6A state tournament and wanted to test themselves against the state's best teams.

By the end of the first day of the state tournament, it was mission accomplished all the way around for the Lions.

The fourth-seeded Lions opened play with a 25-19, 25-20, 24-26, 25-14 win over No. 12 Sheldon on Friday afternoon at Liberty High School, and fell to top-ranked Jesuit (the eventual state champion) 25-21, 25-21, 25-10 in Friday night's semifinals.

On Saturday, the Lions swept No. 7 Summit 25-23, 25-21, 25-15 on Saturday to secure third place in the eight-team tournament. For more on West Linn's victory over Summit, see the accompanying story.

West Linn def. Sheldon 3-1: The Lions showed their readiness in Friday's quarterfinal match against the Irish, winning 3-1 to secure their berth in the semis.

While they didn't get the sweep, the Lions were happy to win and learn from their mistakes.

"We kind of thought we had it in the bag," said senior setter Hannah Hashbarger. "We didn't take them as seriously as we should have and that's kind of been our motto all-tournament — don't take anybody for granted. Don't underestimate anybody. Everybody's here for a reason."

"We played pretty well, but we can definitely play better than we did," agreed sophomore middle blocker Makayla Long.

Sheldon — which trailed by as many as six points midway through the set — rallied back within 21-19 on a West Linn hitting error, but Long connected from the right side, sophomore outside hitter Audra Wilmes notched a kill of her own, senior middle blocker Erika Isaacson scored on a block and senior defensive specialist Ellie Naone ended the set with an ace.

Likewise, the second set was another horse race, with the Irish down just 21-19 after a block by Sheldon's Peyton Ritchie. But the Lions closed with a flourish, getting a kill from freshman defensive specialist/outside hitter Emily Warmenhoven, a Long block, an ace by senior libero Ellie Snook, and after a Ritchie block, the game-winner from Wilmes.

Sheldon turned the tide in the third set, though, rallying from a 23-20 deficit to win 26-24, getting a kill and an ace from Keira Vaughn, and two kills and the game-ending ace from Mackenzy Borek.

But West Linn answered big-time in the fourth set, racing out to a quick 10-point lead with Wilmes serving and junior outside hitter Claire Matthiessen connecting to make it 15-5. Sheldon closed within 15-10 but got no closer the rest of the way.

Naone served three straight points late, including an ace, and the Lions won on a Sheldon hitting error.

"We were just going to come out and show them that we shouldn't have dropped that set," Long said. "We had that mentality back, that we're the top eight in the state and we're going to play the best that we can play and just go out there and do everything we can."

Jesuit def. West Linn 3-0: While the Lions didn't take a set off the eventual state champions, they took their best shots at the Crusaders in the night's first two sets.

"We knew they were going to be tough; they're such a strong team," Naone said. "But we came into it pumped, prepared and ready to go."

"We went into it with the mindset that we were gonna play like there was nothing to lose because there wasn't and there was no reason to hold back and play scared," Snook said. "While we didn't get the outcome we would've liked to, we fought hard and played well as a team."

The first set was close all the way, still tied at 20-20 before Jesuit pulled away behind two big kills by Rose Booth and Alyssa Hughes. In similar fashion, the Lions trailed just 21-20 late in the second set before Booth and Hughes helped the talented Crusaders pull away.

While the third set was less competitive, the Lions knew they'd at least given the Crusaders a scare. Matthiessen led the West Linn attack with nine kills, Long added five of her own and Isaacson three, while Snook led the defense with 14 digs and a 2.07 passing percentage. Naone notched two aces in the second set before Jesuit took over down the stretch.

"We'd worked hard all season for that match," Naone said. "It was a tough loss to a great team, but everyone on the team felt as though we gave it our all and fought hard."

Contact Sports Editor Miles Vance at 503-330-0127 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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