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Culver spikers keep battling

by: Photo By Gary Lindberg - Culver blockers Maria Ruiz, left) and Julie Altig attempt to block a hit by Grant Union during Saturday's Madras Invitational.

The Culver volleyball squad was as busy as the schedule said it would be.
   The Bulldogs finished the week by playing six matches in the Madras Invitational on Saturday. Culver saved its best for last, winning its final game against Dufur 25-23. For complete scores, see Scoreboard.
   East Linn 3, Culver 2: After a hard-fought win in the fourth game, the host Bulldogs had little left in the fifth game. East Linn won 22-25, 25-20, 25-18, 20-25, 15-6.
   A fifth-game match seemed unlikely given the standings. East Linn was alone in third (4-2) while Culver (1-7) was fighting to get out of the cellar.
   The Bulldogs made a quick statement, battling to win the opening game. Culver scored 12 of the final 17 points. Four kills by Tayler Thompson and an ace by Julie Altig led the way. Thompson finished with four kills while Altig had four kills and four blocks.
   East Linn seemingly took control by winning the next two games. Culver made sure the match continued to a fifth game.
   "Our biggest goal of this match was for each player to not get down on themselves," Thompson said. "The girls did that, especially after East Linn won the second and third games."
   That fourth game was a point-for-point battle. Two kills each by Justine Lofting and Cindy McCormack helped keep the Bulldogs even. Lofting had five kills.
   Culver made its move by scoring nine of the final 14 points. A kill by Lofting and ace by Stephanie Hamlin (one of three, plus seven digs) started the rally. Senior setter Megan Hamlin later forced game point with a tip over the net instead of passing the ball to a hitter. She finished with 16 assists and four aces.
   "We stayed aggressive throughout the match," the coach said.
   In the fifth game, a kill by Maria Ruiz plus two service points by Altig helped Culver stay close. Then East Linn scored six consecutive points to take control.
   "The girls used a lot of energy, especially in that fourth game," Thompson said. "By the fifth game, they were out of energy. These girls haven't played in a fifth game this season."
   Salem Academy 3, Culver 1: The visitors won 25-22, 17-25, 25-16, 25-14 despite late Bulldog rallies.
   McCormack served seven consecutive points to rally from a 21-9 deficit.
   Lofting served 10 consecutive points to build up an insurmountable lead. Both Lofting and Thompson finished with three aces each. Altig put in all 11 of her serves.
   Ruiz had five kills and Thompson four.