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Five-set loss drops Lions to 1-2 in TRL

by: VERN UYETAKE Caitlin O’Neil spikes a ball past a Lakeridge blocker in Tuesday’s home match.

The West Linn volleyball team is in an unfamiliar position right now. It has teams it can look up at in the Three Rivers League standings.

After opening league play with a straight sets loss to a Clackamas team that, early in the season, appears to be the team to beat in the TRL, the Lions rallied impressively with a straight sets win of their own against Oregon City.

But, at home on Tuesday, West Linn faced a dangerous Lakeridge squad with its back against the wall.

The Pacers were coming off a pair of tough five-set losses to open league but entered the match with confidence.

Lakeridge jumped out to an early lead, passing the ball well and making fewer errors than the Lions to win the opening set 25-19.

But West Linn seemed to get its footing after falling behind.

The Lions dominated the second game, taking advantage of Lakeridge miscues and hitting the ball with efficiency.

West Linn got strong kills from Caitlin O'Neil and Maria Green to win 25-13 and appeared to have the momentum in its favor.

But the experienced Pacers rallied themselves and played with poise late in the third set, to take it 25-20.

West Linn didn't panic and responded by playing some of its best volleyball of the evening.

The Lions dug well in the fourth set and got the ball to its hitters in good position to win 25-18, setting up a dramatic fifth game.

Five-game matches are familiar territory for Lakeridge so far this season. Against Oregon City and Lake Oswego, the team led 2-1 before dropping the final two sets.

It appeared that West Linn was going to add to their misery on Tuesday, eking out a 14-12 lead.

But Lakeridge played solid defense down the stretch and a hitting error allowed the Pacers to tie the game and ultimately win it 17-15.

It was a tough loss for the Lions who will host Lake Oswego tonight (Thursday) in a key match.