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Buff volleyball tough at home

by: Photo By Gary Lindberg - Britney Lindgren (13) and Samantha Bland (12) celebrate Madras' five-game win against Bend.

They believed.
   Even though Madras was playing a state-ranked team. Or the White Buffalos were without its starting setter Sabria Rios in the last two games in a five-game marathon.
   Even when Madras faced two match points in the fifth game, the Buffs thought they could win.
   Madras did win, beating the No. 8-ranked Lava Bears 26-24, 16-25, 25-17, 15-25, 17-15 in Thursday's Intermountain Conference match.
   "To come back like we did was a huge hurdle for these girls," Buff coach Caron Smith said. "We've been working on finishing games and matches."
   The victory keeps Madras (3-3) in, dare one say, the IMC playoff race. The Buffs also swept The Dalles on Tuesday, Sept. 19.
   Just the IMC's top four advance to the state 5A playoffs. The race should be tight with the IMC being among four of the top eight ranked teams going into last week's play (Crook County at No. 2, Mountain View No. 5, Summit No. 6 along with Bend).
   Madras played like a ranked team, not like a program coming off a one-win season.
   "Winning that first game (against Bend) gave us a lot of confidence," said junior Britney Lindgren, a veteran of last year's 1-16 season.
   Lindgren helped the Buffs win the opening game with five aces. Much later, she also scored the last two points to close out the win.
   At 15-all, Lindgren tipped the ball over the Bend blockers. She started out the match tipping the ball. Lindgren shifted to smashes highlighted by a third-game hit caroming off the blockers five feet out of bounds.
   "I was playing it too safe early on," Lindgren said. "I was just trying to get the ball in, instead of just hitting it. Then I could tip it."
   Lindgren finished with eight kills to offset Bend concentrating its blockers at middles Haley Nye (18 kills) and Krista Haugen (seven kills).
   "I know how hard Britney hits the ball in practice," Madras coach Caron Smith said. "Tonight she did that in a match."
   Lindgren ended the match with a short serve, bouncing off the net and onto the floor.
   Madras had to improvise all night as Rios went out with an ankle injury in the fourth game and backup setter Keri Krenowicz was already out with a wrist injury.
   So, it was turn-back-the-clock night for Danielle Palmer. She was an all-league setter in 2005 but is a libero this season.
   "In practice, Danielle sets," Smith said. "So she's very comfortable doing it."
   Palmer started by feeding Lindgren for two kills. It freed up Nye and Haugen for two kills each. Haugen also had two stuff blocks, one to fend off the second of three Bend match points.
   Madras at Sisters Invite: The Buffs went 3-1 in pool play and defeated Philomath in the quarterfinals. A semifinal loss to Tillamook ended the tourney journey. Rios and Krenowicz were unable to play.
   Madras defeated The Dalles 25-20, 26-24, 25-17: As it turned out, the second game was a preview of the Bend victory. The Buffs fended off a game point on their way to a sweep.
   Madras used that night's strengths of Nye hitting and Palmer serving. The Buffs trailed throughout the second game, down 18-10, 23-17 and finally 24-21.
   A kill by Nye, one of her eight for the match, started the comeback. Then Palmer went back to serve, taking advantage of the new rule allowing the libero to serve.
   "All I thought about was making sure the ball was in," Palmer said. "We believed we could come back."
   A kill by Lindgren closed out that game, one of her six to go along with four tip kills.
   Madras rallied without its entire lineup. In addition to Krenowicz out with a wrist injury, Haugen missed part of that second game due to an elbow injury.
   "We can't worry about who's hurt; we know we have to play with who's on the court," said Rios who was able to celebrate her 17th birthday with a win.
   It was a busy celebration for Rios in the team's new one-setter offense. The junior had 68 positive sets with 16 assists. Early on, Rios set up Nye.
   "I know I have Haley to go to," Rios said. "I also have other hitters."
   Rios was following her coach's instructions to "set to Haley until they stopped her."
   Four Buffs had kills in that final game, including Haugen who returned early in that game. Haugen finished with four kills and four tips. Jessica Glaspie added four tips while Marisa Hulsey had two kills, two tips and 14 positive sets.