The Lions win a five-set battle over Portland Lutheran

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: DAVID BALL - City Christians Alyssa Heard puts up a block against Portland Lutherans Kaitlin Howard during the Lions five-set win Tuesday night.

City Christian went the distance Tuesday night to hand Portland Lutheran its first league loss and climb to the top of the Valley 10 volleyball standings.

The Lions were never challenged in the decisive fifth set, charging o a 7-1 lead behind a four-point service run by Raven Hews, who finished the scoring spurt with an ace through the heart of Lutheran’s defense.

“I told the girls we needed to get out quick, and they responded to that,” City coach Bryan Lewellen said. “You get out ahead and it gives you confidence and allows you to relax a bit.”

The Blue Jays had a chance to get back within striking distance when City was called for a rotation error midway through the set. Lutheran was given a penalty point to close the gap to 10-6, but the Lions' rotation was shifted, bringing middle blocker Kristin Rachinski back into the front row where she was able to neutralize Lutheran’s heavy hitter, Kaitlin Howard.

The Blue Jays wouldn’t score another point.

During one key exchange, City turned back four straight Lutheran attacks before the Lions’ Abby Lewellen sent a winner down the line for a 12-6 lead. Lewellen hammered a kill off a Lutheran block on match point to close out the final set 15-6.

The win moves City (8-1) and Lutheran (7-1) into a virtual tie atop the Valley 10 with the teams splitting their season series.

“If we wanted a shot at the league title we knew we had to beat them tonight, but there’s still more volleyball to play,” Bryan Lewellen said.

Each team faces fellow contender Portland Waldorf (6-2) over the final weeks of the regular season.

City started the night fast, jumping to a 9-2 lead in the first set only to see Lutheran rush back and take the opener 25-22.

The Lions built an even larger margin in Game 2, breaking in front 19-9 after the first rotation only to see the Blue Jays rush back again. Denisse Cruz came up with a kill to tie the score at 24-24, but City won the last two points to even the match.

Kelsey Brandom scrambled the defense on set point with a short serve that dropped in Lutheran’s front row, opening the center of the court for Rachinski to bang a kill clean down the center line.

The pivotal third set saw four early lead changes before Rachinski hit back-to-back aces to give City some breathing room. Piper Lewellen added another ace hit with enough power to topple the Lutheran receiver back a few steps, and Abby Lewellen added a cross-court kill to make it 22-16 Lions.

View a photo gallery from the match at ...

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