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The No. 2 Wildcats will host a first round Class 5A state playoff game Saturday

COURTESY PHOTO: GREG ARTMAN - Wilsonville honored its seven senior volleyball players before Tuesday's match against Hillsboro.

Wilsonville honored its seven seniors before last Tuesday's match.

And then Lindsey Hartford, Gracie Thompson, Kennedy Juranek, Tenley Lubisich, Kendall Shanklin, Paige Hinnant and Grace Folske did what they do best — dominate.

"It hasn't really set in yet," said Hartford, after the Wildcats defeated Hillsboro 3-0 (25-13, 25-8, 25-11). "I've been thinking about this night since I was a freshman. I couldn't have asked for more supportive teammates. I really love the group of girls I'm going out with. It's an awesome team. The fact that we've done so well is so great. It's just really unreal, exciting, but kind of sad."

Hartford and Juranek, both captains for Wilsonville, have played volleyball together through club for eight years.

"We've grown up together," Juranek said. "It just means a lot that we finally made it to our senior milestone and that we get to go through the last season together with such a tight group of girls. They're all super sweet and they're fun to play with. I wouldn't trade it for the world."

"It's just weird to think that this is my last one (league home game), but it's really cool because I feel like we got even closer tonight, just like celebrating everyone," Gracie Thompson said. "We all know that we're going to miss each other next year."

Wilsonville closed the regular season Thursday with another 3-0 (25-16, 25-16, 25-16) win at St. Helens.

The Wildcats finished a perfect 14-0 in the Northwest Oregon Conference.

"I never could have foreseen the success that this program would have," Hartford said. "It has been phenomenal. It's just really amazing because I didn't even know some of the things that this team could achieve and the fact that we've done it is so rewarding for the seniors."

But Wilsonville is not done. The No. 2 Wildcats will host a first round playoff game Saturday.

Coach Nathan Blankenship added the seniors are a perfect example of what Wilsonville's volleyball program is all about.

"It's wonderful from my perspective because I can turn to my JV players and say this is the example to follow as you become the upperclassmen and you build a team," he said. "It's that kind of selfless teamwork and being great teammates that this program is all about. And that's part of the reason they're so successful. They're playing for each other."

Derek Wiley
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