West Linn volleyball wins twice to earn Class 6A tournament berth
The Lions are back.
The West Linn volleyball team followed up its fourth straight Three Rivers League championship by winning two straight matches in the Class 6A state playoffs, knocking off Mountain View and Wilson to earn a berth in the eight-team state tournament.
The fifth-ranked Lions (22-5 overall) open the Class 6A tournament with a match against No. 4 Sheldon (23-6 overall after winning the Southwest Conference) at 8 a.m. Friday, Nov. 8, at Liberty High School. With a win there, West Linn would face either No. 8 Summit or No. 1 Jesuit in the semifinals at 6:30 p.m. Friday; with a loss in their quarterfinal, the Lions would play the Summit/Jesuit loser in the fourth-place semifinals at 8 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 9.
Needless to say, the Lions are excited to be back in the tournament for a fourth straight year.
"It's a really big win," said West Linn sophomore setter Shealyn Cecil following her team's three-set sweep of Wilson on Saturday, Nov. 2. "It's really putting us in the right mindset for when we head to Liberty."
"We are the underdog — nobody thought we'd make it this far — but we're on top of it and we are excited to get out there," added junior outside hitter Audra Wilmes. "(We're going to go) all out."
The Lions earned their berth in the tournament by winning the TRL at 13-1, then beating Mountain View 25-23, 25-20, 22-25, 25-19 in the first round of the playoffs on Wednesday, Oct. 30, and Wilson 25-12, 25-14, 25-19 on Saturday.
West Linn def. Mountain View 3-1: While the Lions held the upper hand in their playoff opener, they struggled with their serving throughout the match (they missed 18 serves), failed to put the Cougars away in the third set and never really seemed to find their footing.
"Even though they were the 28th seed, we knew it was going to be a tough game," said West Linn senior outside hitter Claire Matthiessen. "Maybe there were some first-round playoff game jitters. There are a lot of girls on this team that haven't been to the playoffs or a state tournament before so I think it's good that we got this out now."
That said, West Linn did what it needed to do down the stretch to win, and that — obviously — was the most important outcome of the match.
"We just played together as a team and we kept the energy up as well as we could," said freshman outside hitter Addie Hoover. "We just played together and we pushed through the tough times and we pushed through the good times."
The first set was as close as could be, with the Cougars dead-even with the Lions at 23-23 before Mountain View's Chloe Helikson missed long and Matthiessen took a Kate Griffin set and connected from the left side for the 25-23 win.
The second set was another battle, still tied at 16-16 before West Linn won nine of the final 13 points to pull away, getting back-to-back Hoover kills set by Griffith for the 25-20 victory.
In the third set, the two teams were even at 20-20 before the Cougars stepped up, getting a pair of kills from Jasmine Martin and two aces by Brooke Olsen to win.
Mountain View pushed West Linn again in the finale, but the Lions weren't going to let this one get away. The Cougars led 10-7 early and trailed just 18-16 before West Linn finally edged away behind two kills each by Wilmes and Sydney Marshall, a Marshall block and a Martin miss.
"We didn't let any of our girls get in a dip or go down," Matthiessen said. "We wanted to keep them up and stay positive as a team, because when we do that, we play incredible together."
West Linn def. Wilson 3-0: As tough as their playoff opener had been, the Lions made round two look almost easy against the No. 12 Trojans (24-5 overall after winning the Portland Interscholastic League).
"We were super energetic and our serving was 'on' more than on Wednesday so that really helped," Wilmes said.
"I think we played with a lot more energy. We played more together," Cecil said. "Last time, we were pretty separate, but this time we came together and pulled the energy out."
The Lions led just 11-8 early in the first set, but outscored the Trojans 14-4 the rest of the way, that stretch highlighted by two Hoover kills and two aces each from Cecil and Lily Snook.
In the second set, Wilmes served her team through a nine-point, mid-game run that included three aces, three Ashley Warmenhoven kills and extended the Lions' lead to 16-9. Warmenhoven added two more kills down the stretch and Wilmes ended the set at 25-13 on an attack from the left side.
Wilson was more competitive in the third set, closing within 17-16 on a Wilmes miss, but again, West Linn closed with a flourish, using three Wilmes kills, a Cecil ace and a Warmenhoven kill set by Cecil for the game-winner.
"I think today, we all just clicked together and we played more together than we have so far," Cecil said.
"Our serve receive was 'on' a lot more, which got us more in the system and got us to swinging at balls," Wilmes added.
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