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Crusaders get right in Tuesday win over Cats

Jesuit sweeps past Westview to move to 3-0 in league play


ROCK CREEK — It hasn't been all stuff blocks, aces and straight-set wins for the Jesuit volleyball team thus far in 2012.

Indeed, the Crusaders — the Class 6A state runners up in each of the past three seasons — went just 5-3 in their first eight matches and gave the rest of the Metro League some small measure of hope for this year's league campaign.

But over the past two weeks, Jesuit hit its stride. The Crusaders have now won four straight matches and opened the Metro League season at 2-0, the last of those two wins a 25-16, 25-21, 25-16 victory over Westview at Westview High School on Tuesday night.

by: MILES VANCE - SMACK - Jesuit senior Megan McCool connects over the defense of Westview's Holli Hanson during the Crusaders Tuesday sweep.

“I think the team's doing really good,” said Jesuit junior setter Jessica Finn. “We're coming together and working out all our errors.”

“We had a rough preseason, but we're pulling together and working really hard in practice, and each game we just see what else we can work on to get better,” added senior outside hitter Megan McCool, who led the Crusaders in kills against Westview.

Westview, meanwhile, challenged the Crusaders in each of the night's three games, but knew that it needed more consistency to break through against Jesuit.

“I think we just need a lot more confidence and then we'll see what we need to work on in practice,” said Westview junior middle blocker Hannah Lautenbach. “Then we just need to work on putting it away in practice.”

“The key when things were going good was when our passing and offense were together,” said senior libero Aleks Vrvilo. “But there were a lot of places in the game where either we'd get a pass and couldn't put the ball away, or where we couldn't pass and our hitters were ready.”

In each of the night's three games, Jesuit pushed ahead by mid-game and threatened to run away, fought off Westview rallies and then rolled to victory. In game one, Jesuit led just 6-5 early on, but from there, the Crusaders won 14 of the next 20 points to push ahead 20-11 with McCool getting five kills in that stretch.

The Wildcats cut that gap to 21-14 on a Lautenbach kill in the middle, but Jesuit made sure they got no closer, with Nicole Peterson notching two kills down the stretch to help her team win 25-16.

In the night's second game, Westview was even better for even longer, using a three-point run to close within 18-16 on consecutive kills by Carly Steindorf, Lautenbach and Katrina Dubsky.

But Jesuit posted a 6-4 edge down the stretch of that game to pull away, with senior middle blocker Anne Elorriaga scoring three times in her team's 25-21 victory.

“We definitely were playing hard and we hustled for balls, but we need to work on being more cohesive instead of being disjointed,” Vrvilo said. “We just need to work hard and build on the key points.”

Jesuit tried to leave the Cats far behind in game three and did a pretty good job of doing just that, using a 9-0 run early in the game to push in front 13-3. Peterson served her team through that run while McCool handled the heavy lifting at the net with three kills.

Westview got no closer than seven the rest of the way, the final two times at 22-15 with Savannah Bourgeois serving, and the last at 23-16 when Jesuit's Rachel Hickman netted an attack.

But from there, Jesuit's Elise Krippaehne connected from the middle of the net to make it 24-16 and teammate Melissa Flores closed out the evening's festivities with an ace for the final 25-16 score.

“I was really happy because I'm a setter, and with the passing being on, that really helped us out,” Finn said.

“We used to have slow starts, but now we're starting to pick it up a little bit and play through the matches and not letting down in the middle,” McCool said, adding that Westview “made us work for every point. There was no point at which they were giving up. We had to earn every single point.”

The Cats, meanwhile, knew they'd done some good, but also knew they'd need much more — and much more consistency — to be able to beat Jesuit.

“We just need to get better all around,” Vrvilo said. “We just need to work on improving our passing and serving and a little bit of our offense. We just need to keep on working hard so we're ready for the playoffs.”

In upcoming matches, Jesuit hosts Southridge at 6:30 p.m. tonight (Thursday), plays at the South Albany Tournament on Saturday, then plays at Aloha at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Westview hosts Beaverton at 6:30 p.m. tonight, plays in the Oregon City tournament on Saturday, then plays at Southridge at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

To see a complete photo gallery from this match, please go to www.milesvance.exposuremanager.com.