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LO netters in playoff chase after win over Pacers

Heading into Tuesday's volleyball match between Lakeridge and Lake Oswego, much of the attention seemed to be focused on Lakeridge, which had to win all three of its remaining matches to have a shot at the No. 2 playoff spot from the Three Rivers League.

Well, Lakeridge's run for second is now a moot point after Lake Oswego knocked off the Pacers by a 25-23, 25-22, 15-25, 25-20 score on Tuesday.

'We needed the win for our confidence,' Lake Oswego coach K.T. Emerson said. 'And it puts us in a good place going against Oregon City.'

It was a difficult loss for Lakeridge, which is now locked into the league's No. 3 spot. But at the same time, it was a huge victory for the Lakers, who now trail fourth-place Oregon City by one match.

That sets up a Thursday showdown between Lake Oswego and Oregon City. If Lake Oswego wins Thursday's match and Oregon City loses its league finale next Tuesday, then Lake Oswego will claim the No. 4 spot outright. But, if the teams finish tied for fourth, a playoff would be held next week to determine the TRL's final playoff team.

Thursday's match, meanwhile, will be played at 6:30 p.m. at LOHS.

Every year, Lake Oswego seems to beat Lakeridge at least once. So, Lakeridge coach Wendy Stammer breathed a big sigh of relief when Lakeridge beat the Lakers on Lake Oswego's home court earlier in the season. But the Lakers then used that loss to prepare themselves for Tuesday's rematch.

'My girls definitely came in thinking about the loss earlier to Lakeridge,' Emerson said. 'It's been a motivator for them all season.'

The Lakers have been a good first-game team almost the entire season, but Emerson said her team has had a tendency to let up at times in the second game. Sometimes that spelled the difference between winning and losing. So, the plan on Tuesday was to keep the intensity going after Lake Oswego won the first game by a 25-23 score.

'(Against Lakeridge), that was the big focus for the girls,' Emerson said. 'And the second game was fantastic.'

What made it so was the fact that Lake Oswego won another nail-biter, this time by a 25-22 score.

Lakeridge won the third game convincingly, by a 25-15 count, but the Lakers never lost their confidence and they came back and put the match away in the fourth set.

Emerson got several outstanding performances from her players, but efforts of Heather Anderson, Avery Lee, Keri Nielsen, Mackenzie Walen and Anna Gornbein really stood out. Anderson, the setter, did an excellent job of distributing the ball to the Lakers' top hitters. Then, Walen, Lee and Nielsen (all on the outside) and Gornbein on the inside put away their share of spikes.

Probably no one played a more crucial role than Nielsen, though. She had the game-winning kill in all three of games that Lake Oswego won. Of course, that included the kill that ended the match.

After suffering through their share of frustration during the season, Tuesday's victory was a validation of sorts for the Lakers.

'I wanted the girls to win (the Lakeridge) match for them,' Emerson said. 'There have been times when they didn't think they could beat a top-eight team.'

But they're not having any trouble believing in themselves now.