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After being pushed to five sets earlier in the day, the Wildcats were unable to stage a comeback against the Lava Bears.

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Wilsonville senior Makenna Wiepert (7) goes for an attack during the Wildcats' semifinal match with No. 4 Bend in the OSAA 6A State Championship tournament on Friday, Nov. 4, 2022, in Forest Grove.

The top-ranked Wilsonville volleyball team will be playing for third place at state.

The Wildcats were upset by No. 4 Bend in the semifinals of the OSAA 5A Volleyball State Championship tournament on Friday, Nov. 4, falling 3-1 (23-25, 25-19, 25-20, 25-14) after taking the first set. Having survived a five-setter in the quarterfinals against No. 8 South Albany — in which the team came back from a 14-9 deficit during the fifth set — Wilsonville ran out of gas in the late semifinal.

"We played really good volleyball in the first set, but we just didn't have it after that," said Wilsonville head coach Scott Thompson after the match.

"I think it did affect a couple of us," said Thompson of the long quarterfinal creating tired legs for the Wildcats against Bend. "It was nice that we had a long break, but it wouldn't have hurt us to have a night to sleep on it, for sure."

Thompson added: "We didn't play our best volleyball against South Albany. It was nice to come back from 14-9 and win that, so I was really proud of the girls' resiliency and how they came back. I told them, 'We were in the state championship last year. We were in the state championship (in 2019). We've had a ton of success, we've had two injured starters and we're still competing at the highest level with these teams."

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Wilsonville junior Mary Matthews (left) and freshman Emily Holmes converge on a dig attempt against No. 4 Bend in the OSAA 6A Volleyball State Championship tournament on Friday, Nov. 4, 2022, in Forest Grove.

Those injuries have changed the complexion of the Wilsonville team, which has put its team chemistry and communication slightly off-kilter in the late season.

"We played great against La Salle at the end of the season, but we haven't played great since then," said Thompson. "We've just been a touch off. We were a touch off against South Albany, but you can't be a touch off against Bend."

As for their opponents on the other side of the court, Thompson remarked that the Lava Bears played better than they did when these two teams first met back on Sept. 24.

"Their libero played out of her mind, just phenomenal," Thompson noted. "It's frustrating because we played them (Bend) before and beat them at the South Albany Tournament, but they didn't play like they did tonight."

Still, even as Bend continued to build momentum throughout the final three sets of the match on Friday night, Wilsonville never stopped competing.

"They won't give up. They will not give up," said Thompson of his Wildcats. "We try to be the aggressive team all the time. We needed to be a little bit more precise with our ball-handling and our setting, but I'll give Bend credit. They are a good serving team, and they put pressure on us. We didn't get a lot of easy balls, so our ball-handling wasn't as good as it normally is, but it's also a higher level of stuff coming our way."

The Lava Bears dropped down to Class 5A in the latest round of redistricting, and now they will be playing for a state title in their first year at the lower level.

"I give all credit to Bend; that's a good team. They were the 6A No. 1 last year for a while last year, so yeah, they're a good team."

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Wilsonville senior Emma Alewine (center) and sophomore Ellis Underhill (12) rise for a block against No. 4 Bend in the OSAA 6A State Championship tournament on Friday, Nov. 4, in Forest Grove.

Meanwhile, a state championship may be off the table for Wilsonville, but the Wildcats can still come home from the state tournament with a third-place trophy. To earn that, they will have to beat No. 3 Crater, which fell in four sets to No. 2 Crescent Valley in the semifinal match being played simultaneously with Wilsonville-Bend.

"We still have not played great volleyball at the state tournament in the last four years," said Thompson. "So, that's we talked about: we can still play great volleyball."

Thompson noted that the closeness of the team will help them to regroup as they prepare for their match with Crater.

"I've been around a lot of teams, but I don't know that I've ever been around one this close," said the coach. "I think we've made a lot out of the talent and ability that we have, and they have a lot of talent and work hard."

The OSAA 6A Volleyball State Championship third-place match between No. 1 Wilsonville and No. 3 Crater begins at 2:15 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, at Forest Grove High School. For tickets, visit osaa.org.


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