Jesuit beats Aloha in four games to forge a first-place tie in league
BEAVERTON - Not again.
Jesuit's volleyball team - which saw its 138-match Metro League winning streak snapped 19 days ago - got itself some payback on Tuesday night. The Crusaders, facing Aloha for the first since the Warriors scissored Jesuit's long streak on Sept. 29, beat Aloha 16-25, 25-16, 25-16, 25-10 on Tuesday, and in doing so, forged a first-place tie in the Metro with both teams at 7-1.
'It feels so good,' said Jesuit junior outside hitter Maddie Keudell. 'The first loss was early and we were all still getting used to each other, but we knew we could do it.'
'We've been underestimated by a lot of people, but now, we're even surprising ourselves with what we can accomplish,' added junior outside hitter Megan McCool. 'We have confidence in every player on this team that we can accomplish whatever we want.'
The Warriors, who beat Jesuit in four games in their first meeting, were disappointed with the loss, but knew they just needed to keep improving and play better.
'We were all excited coming in here. We wanted to win the Metro title and take it away from them,' said senior middle blocker/setter Amanda Goringe. 'They played well defensively, but we just need to know we can compete with Jesuit and anyone else.'
'We play with a lot of heart, and when we play for each other, we can do a lot of things,' said Aloha coach Kellie Scholl. 'But for us it's all mental - when doubt enters our minds, bad things happen.'
Aloha did just what it wanted in Tuesday's first game, following the lead of senior middle blocker Amy Boswell and Goringe to grab a lead that grew as large as eight points at 18-10. Jesuit rallied from there, closing within 20-16 when Jessica Finn set up Keudell for a kill on the left side, but the Crusaders got no closer.
Boswell won a sideout with a kill from the right side, then served out the final four points of the opening game to power her team's 25-16 win.
Jesuit came back strong in game two, though, racing out to a 5-0 lead behind three McCool aces, then stretching that lead to 13-3 on an Ariana Wiltjer kill with Anne Elorriaga at the service line. Aloha got no closer than eight points the rest of the way, the last times at 23-15 (on a Goringe tip) and then at 24-16 (on a crosscourt spike by Tricia Nystrom) before Wiltjer ended the game with a kill.
Aloha led 5-4 early in game three, but Keudell served her team to a 10-5 lead with McCool notching two kills from the left side, and Aloha was never closer than that the rest of the way. Wiltjer, a 6-foot-5 freshman middle blocker, got hot after that and recorded five more kills before game's end, including a free ball for the game winner and the final 25-16 margin.
Likewise, Aloha was close in the game-four finale, trailing just 5-4 before Jesuit began to take over again. Keudell stepped to the service line with a 6-4 lead and served the next 11 points in a row to make it 17-4, notching four aces along the way and taking advantage of Aloha's difficulty with serve-receive.
'We always struggle with serve-receive,' Goringe admitted. 'We need to work on that.'
The Warriors got no closer than 10 points the rest of the way, the last time at 18-8 on a Danielle Jones ace before Jesuit closed out the match on a McCool kill from the middle of the net.
'They played error-free and they shut us down,' Scholl said. 'And we weren't able to respond.'
For Jesuit, the key to Tuesday's win was the hard work that preceded it in practice.
'We figured we'd been practicing so hard that we just had to do what we did in practice,' McCool said. 'That allowed us to relax more and just rely on our technique.'
'It was during practice after that loss, and after we struggled in (the South Albany State Preview) tournament, we knew we needed to work harder.' Keudell said. 'And we did, every day since then.'
To see a complete photo gallery from this game, go to www.milesvance.exposuremanager.com.