West Linn volleyball battles to fifth at Class 6A tournament
Say this at least about the West Linn volleyball team — they got their money's worth at the Class 6A state tournament.
The Lions played three matches in two days, knocked off fourth-ranked Sheldon in their opener, pushed top-ranked eventual state champion Jesuit to the limit in a five-set semifinal loss, then took their best shot at talented Three Rivers League foe Canby in their 2019 season finale.
In the end, West Linn went 1-2 at the tournament — held Friday and Saturday, Nov. 8-9, at Liberty High School — and finished fifth in the eight-team tournament.
"I think we had a very successful season," said West Linn junior outside hitter Emily Warmenhoven. "The whole time, we were reaching for state. We wanted to win and we focused every game on giving it our all."
"Our team is really young and everyone was kind of doubting us," said West Linn junior setter Kate Griffin. "But we just worked our tails off every day in practice and this was our goal. As long as we got to state and we were together, that's all that mattered."
"We are just such a young team," agreed junior outside hitter Audra Wilmes, who was a unanimous selection to the all-tournament first team. "Nobody knew what to expect from us this year, but we just came out … on top of it."
Fifth-ranked West Linn opened the tournament with a 16-25, 25-23, 25-22, 25-17 win over No. 4 Sheldon on Friday, followed up with an epic 26-24, 24-26, 22-25, 25-19, 15-11 loss to Jesuit later in the day, then dropped a 26-24, 25-21, 25-20 decision to Canby in Saturday's third-place match.
With those results, the Lions finished their 2019 season with a 23-7 overall record. Southwest Conference champion Sheldon lost again in the fourth-place semifinal, falling 3-1 to Mountainside, and finished its year at 23-8. Metro League champion Jesuit won three straight times in the tournament, claimed its second straight state crown and finished its year at 25-4. And TRL runner-up Canby went 2-1 at state to end its season at 17-7.
West Linn def. Sheldon 3-1: The Lions started slowly in their state tournament opener, trailing just 18-15 late in the first set before the Irish put together a 7-1 run to win 25-16.
Sheldon stayed hot early in the second set, too, and led 7-1 before West Linn awoke. The Lions tied the set at 14-14 and were still dead-even at 23-23 before an Irish hitting error and a kill from West Linn senior Claire Matthiessen gave West Linn a 25-23 win.
The third set was another thriller, tied at 20-20 and West Linn up just 23-22 before a missed serve by the Irish and a Sheldon hitting error ended the game at 25-22. And finally, in the fourth set, West Linn led 19-15, then got an ace from sophomore Shealyn Cecil, a kill by Matthiessen, a one-handed save for a point from sophomore Rayna Reynolds and a Wilmes kill set by Cecil for the win.
"We were pretty nervous, but I think in the first set, we got all our nerves out, and in the second set, we really came together and just got control of ourselves," said West Linn junior libero Lily Snook. "We really came together."
"Every year, the first set (at state), we come out with a lot of nerves," Matthiessen said. "Everyone does because it's a much different setting than we're used to. But we got the nerves out, got some mistakes out, and after that, we realized we have to pick it up. We focused on our energy, because once our energy comes up, the rest of our game seems to follow."
Jesuit def. West Linn 3-2: Facing top-ranked Jesuit in their semifinal, the Lions left it all on the court at Liberty, rallying from a first-set loss to win both the second and third, then coming back to lead 11-4 in the fifth set before the Crusaders ripped off 11 straight points to prevail 26-24, 24-26, 22-25, 25-19, 15-11.
"We gave everything we had," said Warmenhoven, who racked up 15 kills and also added five digs and one ace.
"(We knew) it's anyone's game, so we just (had) to come out and give everything we've got," said Wilmes, who led her team with 42 kills on 100 attacks with only eight errors, along with 13 digs and two aces.
The Crusaders, led by all-tourney picks Tess Masingale, Maddy Dowdall and Maisie Alexander, won the night's first set at 26-24, but the Lions answered with a stellar effort in the next two, taking the second set 26-24 and the third 25-22 to close within one win of victory.
But Jesuit steadied itself, won the fourth set 25-19 and the two teams rolled into the decisive fifth. There, the Lions raced out to a seemingly secure 11-4 lead, but couldn't close out their upset bid. The Crusaders came back with 11 unanswered points to win the match and the championship-match berth.
Jesuit got 18 kills and three blocks from Tess Masingale, four blocks from Ella Masingale, 12 kills from Amanda Henry, 32 assists by Peyton Griffin and 26 digs from Alison Buchholz.
For West Linn, Snook had 18 digs and two aces and Ally Dean 17 digs.
"(They key was) playing together and keeping that high intensity, along with the mentality that nothing is hitting the floor," Snook said.
Canby def. West Linn 3-0: While Canby was coming off its own five-set loss in the semifinals, the Cougars just seemed to have more energy and consistency in Saturday's third-place match.
"It was really hard to have energy, but we tried to play for each other and just do our best," Warmenhoven said.
"It's just really draining to come back today and fight because we know we could have won (against Jesuit) but we just didn't," Griffin said.
The first set was a back-and-forth struggle that included 14 ties, the last of those at 24-24 on a Canby hitting error at the end of a three-point Warmenhoven serving run.
But Canby's Daley McClellan won a sideout with a kill and teammate Natalie Doman then blocked a Wilmes attack for a 26-24 victory.
In the second set, the Cougars — who rallied behind McClellan's hitting all day — raced out to a 13-4 lead, pushed that lead to 21-11, then held on to win 25-21 as the Lions came back behind Wilmes and freshman outside hitter Addie Hoover.
The Lions had to fight back from behind in the third set too, trailing 10-5 early on before taking a 13-12 lead behind Warmenhoven. From there, West Linn was still within 19-18 on a Wilmes kill, but the Cougars capped their victory with four Daley kills down the stretch and a Gabrielle Gray ace to end it at 25-20.
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