Apollos KO Beavs, keep sights on second

Youthful Sunset continues its climb, this time at Beaverton's expense
by: MILES VANCE, BEAVER BELIEVER — Beaverton senior Caitlin Fetzer connects over the defense of Sunset sophomore Jennifer Jorgensen during the Apollos’ win at Sunset High School last week.

CEDAR MILL - One by one, step by step, Sunset's volleyball team is overcoming its Metro League foes and climbing toward to the top of the standings.

The Apollos took another step in that ascension last Thursday when they swept past Beaverton 25-14, 25-13, 25-16 at Sunset High School. Along with their 25-19, 25-16, 26-24 win over Aloha, the Apollos improved to 6-3 and remained on track for a second-place finish.

'We just wanted to play hard tonight,' said Sunset senior setter/outside hitter Katie Sneed. 'We're working really hard to get' to second place.

'If we do our job, we'll end up in second tied with Southridge,' said Sunset coach Lad Salness. 'We're realizing that we're a good ball club. We're a good team. We're getting some experience and they're doing what they need to do.'

Beaverton, which also lost to Southridge 25-5, 25-13, 25-19 on Tuesday, fell to 0-9 in Metro League play, but despite that, continue to play with pride and passion.

'Each game we were just trying to play our best, fight our way through it,' said Beaverton senior outside hitter/blocker. Danielle Bauman. 'Hopefully, there will be a win, but if not, as long as we play our best, then we're happy.'

That said, 2006 has been a difficult road for the Beavers to travel.

'We have yet to win a league match, which has been very difficult for us,' said Beaverton coach Megan Nilson. 'We have a long way to go and only (a few) days left to make a lot of changes .'

In the first half of each of the night's first two games, the Beavers hung tough against the Apollos. In game one, neither team led by more than three points until midway through an eight-point run served by Sunset senior Amanda Hoffman. In fact, the Beavers were still dead even with the Apollos at 10-10 after a cross-court kill by junior Julie Sullivan.

But the Apollos caught fire then and there, getting two kills from Sam Gatzke and one each from Allison Groom and Jennifer Jorgensen during Hoffman's serving streak, which ended with Sunset leading 18-11. Sophomore Laura Stanulis then added three kills down the stretch to pace her team's 25-14 victory.

The Beavers battled hard early in game two as well, getting aces from Claudia Mays and Brown and a Sydney Kloetzli block on Gatzke for an 8-7 Beaverton lead.

But Sunset came on strong again, scoring 14 of the game's next 17 points to grab a commanding 21-12 lead. During that run, Jorgensen came through with two kills and Lauren Hum with two stuff blocks. Groom then capped the game with a tip for the final 25-13 margin.

'I think we came in strong, we were pumped, but then something would happen and we'd get discouraged,' Baumann said.

Bolstered by their fast finish in game two, the Apollos hit the ground running and put game three on ice quickly. After the game started at 1-1, Sunset took off on an eight-point run with Alyssa Martin at the service line. Along the way, Martin notched three aces and saw teammates Jorgensen and Hoffman both score kills.

Beaverton came back within 8-4 on a Nicole Sugihara ace and two Traci Protosono kills, but the Apollos boosted their edge back to eight at 12-4 on two Hoffman aces and a Jorgensen kill and never led by fewer than six points the rest of the way. Hoffman added two points among her team's final six, and Sneed ended the match with a big hit off the Beaver block.

'We always start off slow ... and then we pick it up,' Sneed said. It was 'total communication. At the beginning of the game, we do not talk at all. We have to get everyone to talk, and then when we do, we just completely connect and everything just works out really well.'

'It's nice. They're learning to play. They're getting excited and they're getting confident,' Salness said. 'Now it's about getting to play at a higher level.'

For the Beavers, it's about trying to get a win before the season ends.

'At this point our goals as a team have definitely shifted,' Nilson said. 'We have moments of greatness in every game, but can't string enough of those moments together to play well enough to finish on top.'