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Laker volleyball team ends losing streak to Lions, ties for TRL title

by: MATTHEW      SHERMAN Left, Amy Sohlberg, (No. 4) gives Madelynn Mitchell a big hug in the celebration that took place moments after the Lake Oswego volleyball team wrapped up its five-set win over West Linn.

Lake Oswego's volleyball team snapped a seemingly interminable league losing streak to West Linn last week and clinched a share of the Three Rivers League title in the process.

The Lakers had a chance to win the title outright on Tuesday but lost in five sets to a fired up Oregon City team.

Against the Lions, Lake Oswego fended off a late rally and buried West Linn in the fifth set for a 18-25, 25-21, 25-22, 16-25, 15-4 victory, sparking a huge celebration by the Lakers.

For years West Linn has had Lake Oswego's number and, early on, it looked like the Lions were going to walk away with another victory.

The Lakers had numerous hitting errors in the first set and staked West Linn to an early lead.

West Linn led 19-12 but Lake Oswego rallied back with a nice run on Lara Thomas' serve.

The Lions then put the opening set away and would take an early lead in the second set as well.

Not wanting to fall behind 2-0, Lake Oswego fought back and led by a slim margin for most of the second set, getting a huge kill from Jennifer Braschayko and a late error from the Lions to knot the match.

In the third set, West Linn led early again before Lake Oswego battled back on stroke serving from Madelynn Mitchell and tied the game at 10-10.

A big kill by Erika Treske gave the Lakers a slim lead and a service error by the Lions put Lake Oswego up 2-1.

"West Linn blocked really well but Abby (Gray) always does a great job giving the hitters another chance," Braschayko said.

West Linn wasn't done though as Lake Oswego again spotted the Lions points to start the fourth set.

Lake Oswego tied the set up but the Lions went on a late run to tie the match up and seemed to have momentum heading into the final stanza.

The Lakers knew they could ill afford to get off to a slow start in the fifth set and, after losing the first point, they rattled off five straight.

"We didn't make many adjustments. They're a tough team to beat and it was just a matter of staying aggressive," Laker coach Christy Burnett said.

Then, leading 5-3, Lake Oswego rattled off five more points, getting an ace from Braschayko as the Lakers were firmly in control.

West Linn was demoralized and Lake Oswego won the last five points of the match to seal the win.

"We have a lot of seniors and they're all very tough mentally. That experience really helped," Burnett said.

The Lakers couldn't quite keep their league win streak in tact in the final match of the regular season, falling to Oregon City on the road and slipping into a three-way tie with West Linn and Clackamas.

The Lions have won at least a share of the TRL title for 16 straight seasons and Lake Oswego's win against them helped the team's seniors achieve a huge goal for the year.

"It feels so great. For me it's been three years of almost beating them and to do it on our senior night is amazing," Braschayko said.

Lake Oswego avoided a play-in match and will open the postseason next week but its first-round opponent has yet to be determined.

The Lakeridge volleyball team split its final two matches of the regular season.

Last Thursday the Pacers swept Canby for the second time this season to keep its chances of avoiding a play-in match alive.

The Cougars have improved since the beginning of the year but the Pacers were consistent and played solid defense to come away with the win.

On Tuesday Lakeridge looked to complete a season sweep against a strong Clackamas squad.

The Pacers kept every set close but the Cavaliers played an emotional match on their senior night and closed out each set well, winning the match in three sets to move into a tie for the league title.

Lakeridge finished the season fourth in league and will host an upcoming play-in match. The time of that match is to be determined.