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Valiants win their way into semis, finish fifth


Valley Catholic has plenty of reasons to celebrate in 2012

EUGENE — The Valley Catholic volleyball team started the 2012 season with a whole lot of “new.”

The Valiants had new on-court leadership, a new coach, new challenges and a re-made lineup, but ended their season back in the same old place — at the Class 3A state tournament.

The Valiants, who tied for second place in the Lewis & Clark League regular season, won their way back to the 3A tournament — held Friday and Saturday at Lane Community College — won their way into the state semifinals and eventually finished fifth overall. They also won the tournament's Sportsmanship Trophy.

by: ZACK PALMER - COME TOGETHER - Valley Catholic's volleyball team gathers to celebrate a point during its Friday night semifinal loss to Corbett in the Class 3A state volleybal tournament.

“As a coach, I could not be prouder of our team,” said Valley Catholic coach Grant Anderson. “I look forward to another great season next year.”

The fourth-ranked Valiants kicked off the tournament with a 25-23, 25-14, 26-28, 25-19 win over Southern Conference champion Cascade Christian, the state's No. 7 team. VC edged to victory in game one on a Madeline Henningsen kill, broke open a tight game two thanks to serving runs by Ashley Ferris and Rachel Liening, then rebounded from its game-three loss to take game four behind Katharine Jesse and Henningsen.

“We pushed through as a team and we're pumped,” said Jesse, who won first-team all-tournament honors. “I think we just really stuck together as a team and communicated really well. That's what we've been focusing on in practice.”

“We are ecstatic,” Henningsen added. “ We knew what we needed to fix (after game three) and we went out and fixed it so we could match up to them and play better than them.”

Next up, the Valiants matched up with L&C champion Corbett in Friday night's semifinals, and for the second time in three tries this year, they pushed the Cardinals to four games before finally falling short 17-25, 25-21, 25-18, 25-18. Top-ranked Corbett went on to lose to Santiam Christian in the state championship to finish second.

“It seemed (that we) ... were in control, winning the opening game, but we ended up coming up short,” Anderson said.

“They're just really solid in ball control,” Jesse said of the Cardinals. We knew we would “have to match that in serving and serve receive.”

The Valiants came back strong again in the third/fifth-place match against Blanchet Catholic on Saturday, and again won the match opener 25-16. But the second-ranked PacWest champions rallied there and won the final three games and the match 25-15, 25-15 and 25-22.

“Once again, we had good contribution from every member of the team,” Anderson said.

He noted that, over the course of the tournament, Jesse led VC with 74 kills, Mackenzie Petersen recorded 93 assists and 14 aces, while Bridgette Henningsen had 37 digs and 58 service receptions.

The future looks bright for VC too, with the team graduating just Peterson and Bridgette Henningsen from this year's squad.

To see a complete photo gallery for this team, please go to www.milesvance.exposuremanager.com.