VOLLEYBALL -- No. 3 Gophers host top-ranked Rams
by: David Ball, Gresham senior Lana Zielke converts a kill during the Gophers' sweep against Reynolds last week.

After running over a pair of top-10 foes over the weekend, the Gresham volleyball team takes aim at the state's No. 1 team in a pivotal home match at 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 25.

The No. 3-ranked Gophers (5-0) host Central Catholic (5-0) in a battle for early-season supremacy in the Mount Hood Conference.

'Obviously this is a big match between two of the state's top teams,' Gresham coach Lori Anderson said. 'It's going to come down to playing crisp and clean and forcing the other team into mistakes.'

Gresham holds the edge in the rivalry, winning five of the last six league showdowns, although only one of those matches has ended in a sweep. The Gophers knocked off Central in a one-game exhibition during the Rams' jamboree earlier this month.

The Gophers proved themselves by winning Saturday's Rogue River Classic, which featured many of the state's elite squads. Gresham won all four of its matches in straight games, including a dominant 25-8, 25-6 smashing of No. 4 Jesuit in the championship match.

'All of our kids put in incredible efforts - we played well all day long,' Anderson said. 'Any time you go up against great competition, you have to push yourself to that next level.'

Gresham also beat defending state champion Ashland 25-12, 25-7 and No. 6 Sheldon 25-12, 25-8. The team's biggest challenge came in a 25-17, 25-14 first-round win against Thurston.

Tickets for Monday's match vs. Central Catholic are $5 with discounts for students showing school identification.

• In small-school action, Damascus Christian (6-0) emerged as the final undefeated team in the Valley 10 league, beating Columbia Christian in five games after losing the first two. Damascus cruised 15-4 in the decisive fifth game.

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