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So, so very close

The Tigers are tipped by Century in a battle of the league's top teams

HILLSBORO - A share of first place in the Pacific Conference standings was at stake.

The Tigard High School volleyball team was ready to battle as hard is it could to earn its share of the top spot.

And the Tigers certainly did battle. They battled through good stretches. They battled through bad stretches. They battled to the very end. But, in the end, they came up just barely short in their battle.

In a showdown between the top two teams in the league standings, Tigard was edged 25-27, 25-20, 25-17, 19-25, 15-8 by Century in a Pacific Conference match played last Thursday at Century High School.

'We played our hardest,' Tigard senior middle blocker Bonnie Blood said after the match. 'We had a couple little bad stretches. But it was fun to play this match. I love the competition and I have a headache because it was so loud.'

'That was exciting,' Tigard sophomore outside hitter Lindsey Rosette said. 'We could have had it. We were a little down in the second and third games, but this was definitely encouraging. We know that we can play at a higher level.'

Century, which swept Tigard in three games in the teams' first meeting of the season, improved its first-place Pacific Conference record to 8-0 with the victory. Tigard moved to 6-2 in league play with the hard-fought loss.

'It was a good match,' Tigard coach Rob Coelho said. 'The girls picked it up, and this was a good team for us to play.'

A back-and-forth first game set the tone for last Thursday's match.

Tigard, overcoming an early Century lead, rallied to take an 11-9 lead behind the serving of senior Hanna Coursolle and a block by senior Kylee Rosette.

But Century rallied and took a 17-15 lead in the opening game with freshman setter Kyla Militante-Amper serving.

Tigard rallied again. A tip by Lindsey Rosette gave the Tigers a 20-19 advantage. A kill by Kylee Rosette gave the Tigers a 24-23 lead, but they couldn't put the game away, as back-to-back kills by juniors Raquel Mellick and Jamie Thompson gave the Jaguars a 25-24 lead.

But Tigard had the last rally of the first game. A pair of Century errors and an ace serve by junior setter Lauren Becker gave the Tigers a 27-25 first-game victory.

The Tigers carried their momentum into the second game of the match, as they took a 6-3 lead on a kill by Kylie Rosette off a set by Becker. Tigard held the lead for most of the game. The Tigers went up 16-14 on another kill by Kylie Rosette.

But that's when Century came roaring back.

Junior Jordan Deming served back-to-back aces to help the Jaguars rally to take an 18-16 lead. An ace by senior Rachel Smith helped Century push its advantage to 23-18. Tigard trimmed the margin to 23-20, but Century, getting consecutive kills by Deming and junior Bailey Griffo, closed out the 25-20 second-game win.

In the third game, Tigard took a 9-8 lead on a kill by junior Valerie Hughes. But, again, Century stormed back to take control.

Century took a 10-9 lead on a Tigard violation, and the Jaguars didn't trail the rest of the game, winning 25-17 to go up two games to one and move a step closer to wrapping up the match.

But the Tigers made sure it wouldn't be that easy, as they came back strong in the fourth game.

Kills by Blood and Hughes and an ace serve by Blood propelled Tigard to an early 6-1 lead in the fourth game of the match.

But Century came back again. The Jaguars took a 9-8 lead on a block by Deming. They kept a close lead for a good part of the game, going up 19-17 on a Tigard violation.

But the Jaguars wouldn't score again in the game.

A kill by sophomore middle blocker Michelle Simmons off a set by Becker made the score 19-18 and ignited a big Tigard run.

With senior Sam Debenedetti serving, Tigard, getting a block and a kill by Kylie Rosette, scored the next seven points of the game to get a 25-19 win and send the match to a fifth game.

'The girls came back strong in the fourth game,' Coelho said. 'I was proud of them.'

'We got our passing up in the fourth game,' Blood said.

In the fifth game, played to 15, Tigard took a 1-0 lead on a point on serve by Debenedetti.

But Century took over from there. The Jaguars went on a 10-2 run to take a 10-3 lead.

Tigard, getting a pair of tips and a pair of kills by Kylie Rosette, cut the lead to 12-8, but the Jaguars scored the next three points to wrap up the 15-8 win and the match.

'We've improved a lot,' Lindsey Rosette said. 'We're working on being quicker with our offense and we've improved a lot in our passing.'

Tigard bounced back from the narrow loss to post a 25-23, 25-18, 25-18 home win over Glencoe on Tuesday.

The Tigers will be back in action tonight (Thursday) when they play at Forest Grove in a league match starting at 6:45 p.m. On Tuesday, Tigard will host rival Tualatin at 6:45 p.m.

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Tualatin, meanwhile, is continuing its winning ways.

The Timberwolves posted a 25-18, 25-9, 25-11 home win over Hillsboro last Thursday. On Tuesday, Tualatin won 25-17, 25-19, 22-25, 25-16 at Newberg.

With the two wins, the Wolves improved to 7-2 in league matches, putting them in a tie with Tigard for second place in the league standings.

Tonight, Tualatin will host McMinnville at 6:45 p.m.