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After falling down 2-1, Wilsonville volleyball rallied against Crescent Valley to move to the 5A finals.

PMG PHOTO: AUSTIN WHITE - Wilsonville High volleyball's Makenna Wiepert, left, gets a hand on a kill from Crescent Valley's Isabella Jacobson on Friday, Nov. 5, during the Class 5A state semifinals at Liberty High School.Wilsonville High volleyball coach Scott Thompson said he talks with his team all the time about winning the serve-receive battle.

So when No. 3 seed Crescent Valley kept landing aces in the matchup with the No. 7 Wildcats in the Class 5A state semifinals at Liberty High School on Friday, Nov. 5, things felt like they were getting away from Wilsonville.

However, the focus on serve-receive paid off as the Wildcats battled back to take the fourth set and force a fifth and deciding frame.

In the final frame, Wilsonville only gave up one ace and took the fifth set to win the match 26-24, 15-25, 19-25, 28-26, 15-13 and advance to the 5A finals Saturday against No. 1 West Albany.

"We made a couple adjustments that kind of worked, then kind of didn't and then we went back to our primary serve-receivers and they did a nice job," Thompson said. "It was good enough. They take a lot of pride in their serve-receive, they're not going to be happy with how they did.

"We did enough, so I'm happy."

When the Wildcats did keep the ball in the air off serves, a majority of the sets went to senior outside hitter Ashli Edmiston who finished with 23 kills.

Her biggest kill came in the fourth set with the score tied at 20 and Edmiston launched one off the head of a Crescent Valley defender.

The Wildcats went on to take the fourth set 28-26 relying heavily on the arm of Edmiston.

"I said, 'We're going heavy with her (Edmiston),'" Thompson said. "And we can go back row with her. She really led the team and then timely play by everyone else. I thought our setter was fantastic, Makenna Wiepert."

When Crescent Valley wasn't picking up aces, the Raiders' freshmen duo of Isabella Jacobson and Taelyn Bentley went to work attacking.

Jacobson, an outside hitter, did her damage primarily from the right side, meanwhile the middle blocker in Bentley kept hitting spikes to the ground up the middle on quick sets from the Raiders' setters.

However, the attacks slowed down in the fourth set as the blockers for Wilsonville started to funnel the balls more to the back row and gave the Wildcats a chance to respond.

Thompson described how he had his team serve to the left when Jacobson lined up on the right to keep it away from her strong arm, which ultimately paid off in slowing the freshman down.

"That kind of helped us structurally, and we talked to our girls about it, and we've been working on this for weeks, we really got to seal that block on the outside," Thompson said. "That's a really good team we just beat and look out for them next year."

The time is now though for Wilsonville, who made the 2019 Class 5A state final before falling to Ridgeview in straight sets.

The 2019 runner-up finish was the Wildcats first state title appearance in program history, and now they look to finish the job against West Albany on Saturday to bring home another first.

The Wildcats played the Bulldogs in pool play at an early season tournament, splitting a set each.

Needless to say, Saturday night could mean another five set-thriller for Wilsonville.

"We need to play better, we need to serve-receive better," Thompson said. "If we play like we did on Tuesday at North Bend, it's going to be a heck of a final."

First serve is set for 4 p.m. at Liberty High School.


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