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Wildcats fall to Central Catholic and Oregon City Saturday at West Linn tournament

PMG PHOTO: DEREK WILEY - Wilsonville senior Lindsey Hartford hits the ball over the net at a couple of Central Catholic blockers Saturday afternoon at West Linn High School.

WEST LINN — Wilsonville (17-2) suffered its first losses of the season Saturday.

But in battling one of the top teams in Class 6A, the Wildcats gained even more confidence.

After winning both of its pool play games in straight sets, Wilsonville, the No. 1 ranked team in 5A, lost to Central Catholic, the No. 3 team in 6A, 2-0 (22-25, 24-26) in the quarterfinals of the West Linn tournament's gold division.

"I'm so proud and I know our whole team is so proud of how we played against them," Wilsonville senior Lindsey Hartford said. "That game showed us that we can play with the really tough teams. That gave us even more confidence that we can do well in 5A in our state tournament."

The Wildcats led late in both sets — 19-17 in the first and 20-19 in the second.

"I do believe with just a few refinements we'll able to win those types of games," Wilsonville coach Nathan Blankenship said. "To play at that level is where we need to be to compete at 5A state, because all of those teams are going to be strong. They're all going to have good hitters and good blockers. It's going to be a tight contest and when we have the advantage at the end of the game, we have to be able to finish it off. It's just refining to be able to grab those last two points."

Central Catholic then defeated Canby 2-1 in the semifinals before losing to West Linn 2-1 in the finals.

"They were solid," Blankenship said of Central Catholic. "They had very good middles. That's a big team. They covered the floor extremely well and they would dig stuff up and most teams will not be able to get that second and third touch on the ball and keep the ball in play. We've seen some really scrappy teams, but that was another notch above."

PMG PHOTO: DEREK WILEY - Wilsonville sophomore Tatum Lubisich hits the ball at a Central Catholic Rams blocker.

Wilsonville lost to Oregon City 2-0 in the consolation semifinals.

"We kind of left it all out on the floor with Central Catholic," Blankenship said. "We were so close to pulling that one out. It's hard emotionally to bounce back from that, and then Oregon City played well. They played their game and we didn't really play our game. I think the girls know that. When you're not executing the way you normally play, everything kind of gets a little off kilter and I think that's where we were. We never really found the groove."

The Wildcats will learn from the West Linn tournament as they wrap up the regular season this week and then prepare for the playoffs, which begin Nov. 2.

"We looked past Oregon City a little bit," Hartford said. "We beat them before (Sept. 14 at Tualatin). We just weren't playing our game. We were a little undisciplined and that happens. We had a lot of missed serves. We killed ourselves in that match. Our serves have got to go in. We'll learn from it. We learned that we definitely can't take anyone for granted and we learned that if we're not on our game and we're not disciplined, anyone can beat us."

Derek Wiley
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