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Pioneers scrap and claw but come up short

VOLLEYBALL-Final games give Sandy reasons to feel good heading into play-in
by: Kris Anderson Sandy's Allie Haris (3) and Breanna Creech (11) jump to block a St. Helens spike during last Thursday's 3-1 loss.

The Sandy volleyball team has come to the finish line of the regular season, and they've done so in manor they can be pleased with. This season was more about development and less about winning.

So how do they compare now to the team they were at the beginning of the season?

'We would kick our butts,' head coach Chris Meyers said. 'If we got to play ourselves, right now, from where we were at the beginning of the season, we'd hammer ourselves, right now.'

The Pioneers have played a number of close matches during the final weeks of the season, and last Thursday's match against St. Helens was no different.

Sandy pestered the Lions, but not enough to tame them. Trailing by two games, Sandy took the third, as Breanna Creech ended the game with three kills. Still, the Pioneers would come up short, losing 3-1.

'I was really impressed, because our kids came out and battled,' Meyers said.

The match didn't start in competitive fashion. It was senior night for the Pioneers, and Meyers allowed all of his seniors to play the entire first game. With some seniors out of position, Sandy (2-14, 2-12) struggled to develop cohesion and dropped that game 25-7.

Sandy's regulars came back on the floor to start the second game and the turnaround was immediate. They stayed right with the Lions (8-9, 8-6), despite losing the game 25-23.

'Our girls, the last couple of matches, have just scrapped like crazy,' Meyers said. 'They just scrap and fight and dive and play balls and keep balls in play and just try to keep giving us chances.

'It's that mentality we've been working on all year long, trying to develop that never giving up and playing every ball and doing everything you can to keep pressure on the other team.'

Through the final two games, the match continued to entertain. Sandy won 25-21, but dropped a tight third game 25-20.

While Sandy still has a 5A play-in game on Tuesday, the end to the regular season gives them a chance to reflect on the season. They know where the focus of training will be in the off-season. Passing is one area they hope to improve. Meyers has also posed a challenge to his players: improve their vertical leap by three inches, at least.

'We're going to do a lot of off-season stuff,' Meyers said, 'and, I think, the girls really want to. I think that we've had a lot of success this year and success to a point where the kids want to work at it and want to get better.'

'I definitely see us going in the right direction.'

On Tuesday, the Pioneers traveled to Sherwood for the 5A play-in game.