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LO, LHS take best shots at Lions

by: Vern Uyetake, Lake Oswego’s Heather Anderson goes high for a kill during the Lakers’ season-opening volleyball match against West Linn last Friday. West Linn won the match in straight sets.

Beating West Linn in volleyball has been next to impossible in recent years. So, it wasn't the end of the world when Lake Oswego lost its season-opening match to the second-ranked Lions last Thursday.

But Lake Oswego coach K.T. Emerson was at least hoping that her team would win a set from the Lions. Instead, West Linn won the match in straight sets and extended its league winning streak to 98 matches, a run that dates to the first match of the 1999 season.

The Lakers played well at times, especially on defense where they made an amazing number of digs and difficult passes. That led to an occasional kill by players like Avery Lee, Anna Gornbein, Keri Nielsen, Lindsay Cowan and Heather Anderson.

'We served and passed well in game 2 and 3, which allowed us to run our offensive system,' Emerson said. 'We were pretty scrappy in the back row … They did go for balls a lot, which was great.'

However, a string of costly errors all but handed West Linn the first game. Errors also proved to be a problem through parts of the second game and the opening stages of game 3. West Linn won those games 25-10, 25-10 and 25-14.

'I think we got some first-game jitters out, which is great,' Emerson said. 'In that third game, I think we definitely came together and started doing things that we can do.'

With play like that, Lake Oswego scored an easy three-set victory over Milwaukie on Tuesday.

But what will it take to beat West Linn in the future?

'Taking risks and being able to play outside of what you think your own abilities are,' Emerson responded. 'We have girls that can definitely do that. But I think they still get really nervous … and they don't always know how well they can play.'

The Lakers' cross-town rival, Lakeridge, nearly had West Linn figured out at last Saturday's jamboree at Central Catholic. The one-set match, which was played at 9:30 a.m., could have gone either way but West Linn held on for a 25-23 win.

'We played great in that first match,' Lakeridge coach Wendy Stammer said. '(The Pacers) were really up for it. They had a lot of energy to play that match.'

The Pacers also beat St. Mary's and Lake Oswego in that jamboree, but the Pacers lost to defending champion Jesuit and played sub-par matches against Reynolds and Barlow.

'(After West Linn), our energy level was kind of low,' Stammer said. 'They came out fired up for that first match … (After that) it was more of an up-and-down rollercoaster.'

That rollercoaster ride apparently lasted through Tuesday's league match against Clackamas, which the Cavs won in straight sets. Ironically, the Pacers had earned a top-10 ranking the day before that match was played.

'It's nice that people recognize us a top-10 team. But we've got to take care of business in league and in the playoffs. That's where it counts the most,' Stammer said.

Heading into the Clackamas match, Stammer was pleased with the effort of several of her players, including outside hitter Jenny Bistolas and defensive standout Taylor Horton.

'(Bistolas) is playing really well on the outside … She's passing well and playing great defense,' the coach said.

And Horton 'is just all over the court,' Stammer said. 'I told her, 'you're the librero. You've got to take charge on the court.' And I feel that's what she's doing.'