Sherwood gets a sweep to claim the top spot in the NWOC

by: DAN BROOD - WE WIN -- The Sherwood High School volleyball team celebrates following its win over Liberty.SHERWOOD — No pep talk was needed.

Nope, when the Sherwood High School volleyball team took the court to face rival Liberty, it was already plenty fired up.

And motivated Lady Bowmen kept their intensity level at a fever pitch throughout the contest as they rolled to a 25-16, 25-15, 25-21 win over the Falcons in a Northwest Oregon Conference showdown played Tuesday at Sherwood High School.

by: DAN BROOD - THE WALL -- Lady Bowmen Hannah Valesano (left) and Mallory Shields block a hit by Liberty's Selena Folkard. “We’ve been prepping for this game all season,” Sherwood senior outside hitter Jessie Koster said after the victory. “Liberty and state — that’s what we’ve been getting ready for. This was so exciting. We came out with a lot of energy and stayed up the whole time.”

Liberty, which was tied with the Lady Bowmen for first place in the NWOC standings heading into Tuesday’s match, moved to 4-1 in league matches with the setback.

Sherwood, which downed Liberty in the 2010 Class 5A state championship match, stayed perfect in NWOC contests, improving to 5-0 with the victory.

“This was a big win, and we were so pumped,” said Sherwood middle blocker Kathryn Groenweghe. “We were looking forward to this all season.”

In the first game of Tuesday’s showdown, Sherwood broke a 9-9 tie on a block by Groenweghe, and the Lady Bowmen took off from there.

With junior setter Danielle LeBlanc serving, Sherwood scored five straight points, getting an ace serve from LeBlanc during the streak, to claim a 15-10 lead.

Liberty cut the margin to 18-14, but Sherwood took off again. The Lady Bowmen, getting a kill by Koster, scored three straight points with junior Sydney Blomquist serving to up the lead to 21-14.

From there, a tip by Koster and a kill by senior outside hitter Devin Saucy, both coming off sets by LeBlanc, helped the Lady Bowmen close out the 25-16 first-game victory.

But Liberty came storming back to start the second game. Behind a pair of aces by sophomore Kelly Meeuwsen, the Falcons jumped out to a quick 3-0 DAN BROOD - ABOVE THE NET -- Sherwood junior setter Danielle LeBlanc sets the ball up high during the Lady Bowmen's NWOC match with Liberty. Sherwood scored a three-game sweep of the Falcons.

But Sherwood battled back, tying the game at 6-6 and then taking a 7-6 lead on a point on serve by Blomquist. The Lady Bowmen didn’t trail again the rest of the game.

A kill by Koster pushed the margin to 9-6. A kill by Saucy and an ace serve by Koster helped up the Lady Bowmen lead to 14-7.

Sherwood kept rolling from there. After getting a sideout kill by Saucy off a set by LeBlanc, senior libero Kayla Shearer served back-to-back aces and Groenweghe followed with a tip to help Sherwood open up an 18-9 cushion.

Sherwood would go on to lead 22-9 following another ace by Shearer before Liberty finally got a sideout on a kill by senior Kristin Szmigulski.

The Lady Bowmen, getting a pair of kills by Groenweghe off sets by LeBlanc, would go on to close out the 25-15 second-game win.

The teams battled back and forth to start the third game.

Liberty took a 12-10 lead on a block by Szmigulski, but Sherwood answered back right away. A pair of kills by Groenweghe and one by Saucy, all coming off sets by LeBlanc, gave the Lady Bowmen a 13-12 lead.

From there, the teams moved to a 16-16tie before Sherwood, again, took control.

A Liberty error, a point on serve by Blomquist and a kill by sophomore Mallory Shields gave the Lady Bowmen a 19-16 advantage.

A kill by Saucy and an ace by Koster helped up the lead to 21-17. Liberty cut the margin to 22-20, but the Lady Bowmen, getting a block by Groenweghe and a kill by Saucy, closed out the 25-21 third-game win, wrapping up the sweep.

“That’s big,” Groenweghe said of getting the sweep. “That’s always one of our goals — to win in three.”

“We really stayed up the whole match,” Koster said. “We live for these kind of games.”

“That was a really good match for us,” Sherwood coach Emily Gustafson said. “We passed the ball well and we played with a lot of energy.”

While the Lady Bowmen seemed to shine in all aspects in Tuesday’s win, LeBlanc looked to be one of the key factors in the victory with her precision setting.

“She’s so much better this year,” Gustafson said.

“She’s doing so well,” Groenweghe said. “I think we had a magical connection tonight.”

Prior to the win over Liberty, Sherwood scored a 25-13, 25-16, 25-13 win over Milwaukie in a league match played last Thursday at Milwaukie High School.

The Lady Bowmen will be back in action tonight (Thursday) when they play at Rex Putnam in a league match starting at 6:45 p.m.

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