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All fired up

First-place Tualatin comes back to down rival Tigard in a spirited Pacific Conference match
by: Dan Brood, HANDS IN THE AIR – Members of the Tualatin High School volleyball team, including Gabriela Bosley (9), Sarah Kirsch (5), Jordan Skinner (18) and Abby Messenger (6) celebrate an ace serve during the Wolves’ match at Tigard.

TIGARD - Intensity.

In the first game of its match with Tualatin, the Tigard High School volleyball team boasted plenty of intensity.

Maybe because of that, the Tigers scored an impressive come-from-behind, opening-game win in the best-of-five set.

But that, in turn, just seemed to fire up Tualatin. The rest of the way, the determined Timberwolves seemed to be soaring high on their own intensity.

Tualatin, motivated by its league-title aspirations, rode that intensity to a 23-25, 25-17, 25-12, 25-10 victory over the Tigers in a Pacific Conference match held last Thursday at Tigard High School.

'We didn't start with the same intensity we had against Canby (a three-game Tualatin victory coming against the defending league champs two days earlier),' Tualatin senior middle blocker Sarah Kirsch said after the win at Tigard. 'We can't do that. We have some high goals this year.'

With the victory at Tigard, the Wolves improved to 3-0 in league play at that point, putting them all alone atop the Pacific Conference standings.

'We have a new vision now,' Tualatin senior Abby Messenger said. 'We want to be undefeated all season in league. We're working hard to do that.'

Tigard, with the loss, moved to 1-2 in league play at that point.

'We're learning something every game,' Tigard senior outside hitter Amanda Stone said. 'They're pretty good, and we're good, too. We just need to keep our intensity up.'

Intensity level didn't seem to be a problem for the Tigers in the first game of the match. Trailing 22-17, the fired Tigard team came back in a big way.

Freshman Allie Moss started the rally with a kill off a set by sophomore Courtney Gehring. A shot by the Wolves on the next point sailed out of bounds, getting Tigard a bit closer at 22-19. But the next Tiger serve went into the net, giving Tualatin a sideout and a 23-19 advantage. But the Wolves wouldn't score again in the game.

Another out-of-bounds shot by Tualatin, followed by back-to-back points on serve by Moss got the Tigers within one point, at 23-22. Tigard then tied the game on a Tualatin violation.

A service ace by Moss provided Tigard with a 24-23 lead. Tiger sophomore McKenna Brown then came up with a game-winning kill off a set by Gehring to wrap up the opening game 25-23 win.

'We came out fired up,' Stone said. 'We wanted to play our hardest. We wanted to beat our rival.'

But now the Timberwolves were fired up.

'That was like a wake-up call for us,' Tualatin senior middle blocker Sam Child said of the opening game. 'We came out slow.'

But the Wolves seemed to turn up the velocity in the second game.

The teams were tied at 5-5 in the second game when Tualatin broke away, scoring 10 of the next 12 points. Kirsch had a pair of tips and a kill in the scoring run. Messenger added a kill and senior setter Gabriela Bosley scored on a pair of aces.

Blocks by Kirsch and Child helped the Wolves up their lead to 21-10. Tigard tried to rally again. The Tigers, getting a pair of points off ace serves by sophomore Stephanie Sieg, cut the lead to 21-15. But the Wolves answered, getting back-to-back kills by Child off of sets by Bosley on their way to evening up the match with a 25-17 second-game victory.

'Our serve receive was better after that first game,' Child said. 'And Gabby did a great job setting.'

Tualatin continued its roll into the third game of the match. The Wolves never trailed in the game and were only tied once, at 1-1. Behind strong play at the net by Messenger and Child - and an amazing running dig by Bosley - Tualatin sprinted out to a 19-7 lead in the third game.

Tigard tried to come back, cutting the lead to 20-11 on a block by Stone, but the Tigers couldn't get any closer as the Wolves closed out their 25-12 third-game victory.

The Tigers started the fourth game strong, getting an ace serve by Moss as they went up 2-0 early in the game. But the Wolves came back to tie the game at 2-2 on an ace by Kirsch, and they took off from there.

Tualatin, getting a pair of kills and a tip by Child, a tip by Kirsch and a kill by Messenger, ran to a 14-7 advantage.

Tigard cut the lead to 16-10 on a tip by Brown, but the Tigers wouldn't score again.

Tualatin ended the match on a 9-0 scoring run. Child had two kills and two blocks during the final scoring spree and sophomore Hannah Holloran, had a service ace as the Wolves went on to win the fourth game 25-10, wrapping up their match victory.

'Any time you beat your rival it feels good,' Child said.

Still, Tualatin, with its lofty aspirations goals, seemed to be anything but satisfied.

'We have some high goals,' Kirsch said. 'There's a lot we need to work on. We're going to go into practice tomorrow and focus on our serve receive.'

'We're yo-yoing,' Messenger said. 'We need to be more consistent. We still need to work on our offense and being aggressive.'

Tualatin picked up another league win on Tuesday as it scored a 25-12, 25-19, 26-24 victory at Newberg. Tigard, on Tuesday, fell 25-7, 25-8, 25-8 at Canby.

Both of the local squads will be back in action tonight (Thursday). Tigard will be home to face Newberg at 6:15 p.m. Tualatin plays at McMinnville at 6:15 p.m.