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LO rallies for victory over Pacers

by: MATTHEW SHERMAN The Lake Oswego volleyball team celebrates after closing out last Thursday’s five-set victory over Lakeridge.

It was the first Civil War volleyball match of the year last week so, of course, fans were treated to a back-and-forth five-set showdown between the Lakers and Pacers.

There were plenty of momentum swings but ultimately the Lakers rallied on their home court for the 14-25, 25-11, 21-25, 25-18, 15-5 victory.

The Pacers were the hot team to open the match. Lakeridge got good serving from Krissy Hengesh to take an early lead and fed Anna Spalding at the net as often as they could to cruise to a win in the first set.

But the Lakers rebounded quickly. Lake Oswego got big kills from Jen Braschayko and Erika Treske and tightened up the hitting errors that had plagued them in the opening set.

The Lakers took an early lead in the set and never looked back to even the match.

In the third set, Lakeridge took advantage of some Laker errors to grab a slim lead but the Lakers rallied to tie the set at 16-16.

After both teams served exceptionally well in the first two sets, a pair of service errors by the Lakers gave the lead back to Lakeridge.

Saskia McNairy had a key tip for a winner late in the set and Hengesh made a strong kill to give the Pacers a 2-1 lead.

"It came down to errors. When we were able to control those we were able to be more efficient," Lake Oswego coach Christy Burnett said.

But Lake Oswego didn't panic. The Lakers jumped out to a slim lead in the fourth game and went on another run after the Pacers tied the set at 13-13.

"We knew it was important to get ahead early. We had been playing from behind for most of the match and we told the girls to stay aggressive," Burnett said.

Lake Oswego played with confidence late in the set and played nearly error-free volleyball to even the match again, forcing a fifth game.

"Our energy level got better and I think we built off that after every point," Lake Oswego setter Abby Gray said.

Lake Oswego used another very balanced attack on offense, getting big kills from all of its hitters as Gray spread the wealth.

The Lakers used their momentum from the fourth game to open the fifth.

A pair of errors by the Pacers and two big kills from Heather Pippus gave Lake Oswego a 9-2 lead and Treske would seal the match with another kill.

It was a big win for the Lakers who are now 2-1 in league after a three-set loss to a very strong Clackamas team on Tuesday.

For Lakeridge, it marked the team's second straight five-set loss.

Lakeridge continued its run of hard luck over the weekend at its own tournament, advancing to the championship match without dropping a set.

Against Centennial, the Pacers had match point and appeared to win the next point, setting off a celebration but they were called for a lift, giving the point to the Eagles who would rally to win that set and the next for the championship.

Then on Tuesday, Lakeridge found itself in another five-set nail-biter, this time on the road against perennial powerhouse West Linn.

The Pacers took a 2-1 lead but, as has happened in every league match it has played in this year, they dropped the fourth, setting up another crucial fifth set.

"They fought until the end. We're a good passing team and we started getting the ball to the right people," Pacer coach Wendy Stammer said.

The teams traded point for point but the Lions ultimately led 14-12 and Lakeridge seemed destined to suffer another heartbreaker.

But some great defense and a hitting error by the Lions helped the Pacers earn a side-out and the next point to stave off elimination.

Lakeridge then rallied to win 17-15, marking the team's first victory at West Linn since Stammer has been head coach.

"The team was really confident still. I kept on telling the team how good they were and I think now they believe it," Stammer said.

The Pacers will take on Canby tonight (Thursday).