LO earns season sweep vs. Pacers

by: VERN UYETAKE Lake Oswego’s Nikki Spathas tips a shot over a Lakeridge blocker in Tuesday’s four-set win over the Pacers.

Tuesday's second meeting between the Lakeridge and Lake Oswego volleyball teams was pivotal in the Three Rivers League standings. Heading into the evening the Pacers and Lakers were tied with Clackamas and West Linn with 4-2 records atop the TRL.

Lakeridge entered the match as the league's hottest team having won four straight matches. It's last defeat came on the road against Lake Oswego in five sets.

And it was the Lakers who put an end to the Pacers' win streak as well. In one of their best matches of the season Lake Oswego topped the Pacers 23-25, 25-17, 25-18, 25-22 to stay tied for the league lead with three matches left.

Judging from the first set, the match appeared as if it was going to be another classic back-and-forth affair, destined to go the distance.

The Pacers took a slim 17-14 lead midway through the opening set but Lake Oswego rallied for a 20-19 advantage.

A kill by the Lakers' Lara Thomas tied the score at 23-23 before a pair of errors gave the opening stanza to Lakeridge.

The Pacers also jumped out to a quick 4-1 lead in the second set on a pair of kills by Elizabeth Howell before the Lakers roared back.

Lake Oswego won 11 of the next 12 points, getting three straight service winners from Jennifer Braschayko at one point to take a 12-5 lead.

"As far as consistency goes it's probably the best I've seen us play and that's been our goal," Laker coach Christy Burnett said.

Lake Oswego upped the lead to 23-8, getting four kills from freshman Heather Pippus before Lakeridge mounted a comeback.

The Pacers won nine of the next 10 points, closing the gap to 24-17 before the Lakers put the set away, evening the match.

Lake Oswego jumped out to a 6-2 lead in the third set but the Pacers rallied with five straight points on Krissy Hengesh's serve.

Both teams played terrific defense in the match. Lake Oswego's hitters struck the ball well all night but digs from the Pacers' back line kept rallies going.

"I thought Lakeridge's defense was unreal. That's probably the best defense we've seen a team play," Burnett said.

Lake Oswego would eventually regain the lead, going up 13-10 and then 16-11 on Pippus' serve.

Pippus had a phenomenal game for the Lakers and led the team in hitting. Lake Oswego eventually wore the Pacers down late to go up 2-1.

"Our hitters stayed aggressive and that's what prevails. Heather really showed up from start to finish for us," Burnett said.

Lake Oswego also served the ball very well in the match, particularly in clutch situations.

"Serving was a key for us tonight as we tried to take their middles out of the game," Burnett said.

The fourth set went back and forth. Lake Oswego held a slim 11-7 lead but the Pacers' Anna Spalding kept her team in the match with four kills in the early going.

Lakeridge led 15-13 before three straight errors gave that advantage back.

The Pacers would then go up 18-16 but two more kills by Pippus gave the Lakers a lead they wouldn't surrender.

Erika Treske had two aces on her serve to stake Lake Oswego to a 23-19 lead and Pippus fittingly had kills on the final two Laker points to seal the win.

The win came on the heels of Lake Oswego's victory at the Glencoe Tournament. In the tournament the Lakers didn't drop a set, knocking off a top-10 team in Century in the championship match.

The next week will be pivotal for both teams in the standings.

Lake Oswego plays both of the teams that it is tied with in the standings before finishing up the regular season with Canby.

Lakeridge plays West Linn and Canby next week and closes out the year against Clackamas.