volleyball - Forest Grove drops its 6A Pacific Conference opener to the visiting Lady Timberwolves

Forest Grove opened the Pacific Conference volleyball season on Thursday with a tough four-game loss to Tualatin.

The Lady Vikings (1-2) took Game 2 from the visiting Timberwolves, but ultimately succumbed to Tualatin's strong net play in a 28-30, 25-18, 14-25, 17-25 setback.

'Tualatin was a bit of an unknown for us because we didn't play them in our jamboree,' said Forest Grove head coach Renee Niemi. 'They're a good team.'

Thursday's loss to Tualatin came on the heels of a frustrating non-conference setback against Beaverton last Tuesday. In that match, Forest Grove gave away big leads in each of the first two games, rallied to win the next two games, then finally ran out of gas in a decisive Game 5.

'We didn't play well at all,' said Niemi.

The Vikings led 17-10 in Game 1 but couldn't hold on, then gave away a 20-11 lead in Game 2.

'We couldn't hold a lead,' said Niemi. 'It wasn't a very good performance at all.'

That loss made Thursday's performance against Tualatin seem pretty solid by comparison.

'We lost, but we actually played more consistently and didn't make as many unforced errors,' said Niemi. 'It was definitely a better performance, but we still have some things we need to work on.'

Angela Lance led Forest Grove with 13 kills in the Tualatin match, while Ariel Montgomery led the team in assists. Noelle Castle had six service aces.

After those two setbacks, Forest Grove traveled to Aloha over the weekend for a tournament, but the result wasn't quite what Niemi expected.

'We didn't fare quite so well,' she said. 'We started out so slow it wasn't even funny.'

The end result? Longer practices for the team to sharpen its mental focus.

'It was kind of a frustrating week, so we're having longer practices this week. We're going to three hours a day,' said Niemi. 'We're working on some different stuff, but the main thing is we need to work on our mental game - keeping our intensity up and not having as many lulls.

'We can't give up as many easy points.'

Next on the docket for the Lady Viks is a Pacific Conference home match against Newberg on Thursday, followed by a road trip to McMinnville next Tuesday.

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