VOLLEYBALL - Central Catholic ends league play unbeaten
by: David Ball, Gresham's Austyn Castro goes up for a kill during Game 4 of the Gophers' five-game setback at Central Catholic on Thursday night.

The state's top two volleyball teams met in a five-game thriller Thursday night in front of a standing-room only crowd at Central Catholic High School.

The host Rams sent their boisterous fans home happy by holding off a hard-charging Gresham squad for a 25-15, 25-22, 25-27, 13-25, 15-11 victory. Central capped a perfect run through the Mount Hood Conference with the win and will take the No. 1 seed into next week's playoffs. Gresham settles for the runner-up spot.

Gresham held its own early in the finale, tying the score at 5-5 on back-to-back kills by Lana Zielke and Kyra Speer. But the Rams scored nine of the next 13 points to pull away down the stretch.

The Gophers fought off two match points, but their streak ended when Central's Carly Corrado won a battle above the net and watched as the ball trickled off a couple Gresham players and fell to the floor.

'I wasn't going to let the ball fall on our side - I was not losing that point,' Corrado said. 'The ball went down and people just starting rushing onto the court. It was crazy.'

The Rams appeared on their way to a sweep after taking the first two games of the night. But Gresham took the next two games to extend play. The Gophers turned away a match point in Game 3 before winning 27-25, and held a double-digit lead through most of Game 4.

'We picked up our attitudes and shifted the momentum our way,' Gresham coach Lori Anderson said. 'But Central came out with some big defensive plays in Game 5 and turned things back in its favor.'

Look for extended volleyball coverage in the Saturday, Oct. 28, issue of the Gresham Outlook.

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