Buffs hang on in five-set thriller

by: Bily Gates/The Pioneer - Madras junior Alicia Farias splits a pair of Lakeview defenders with a pass during the Buffs’ 2-1 win against the Honkers on Saturday in Madras. The win is Madras’ second of the year, one more than their win total for all of last season.

After winning the first two sets, it looked as if the Madras volleyball team would cruise to a straight-set win against the Estacada Rangers to open the Tri-Valley Conference season.
   The Rangers, however, didn't go down without a fight.
   Estacada snagged the third and fourth sets from the Buffs, but the home team was able to win the fifth and deciding set, 15-12, Thursday in Madras.
   Madras picked up the opening sets, 25-23, 25-22, but Estacada came roaring back and notched set victories, 25-21 and 25-16.
   "We were down most of the first two sets, so being able to come back was nice," Madras head coach Jamie Smith said.
   "We wanted to protect our home court and focused on our goal of trying to win a league title."
   Smith also said that in previous years, Madras teams may not have been as resilient as this year's team, which "buckled down" in the final set, as Smith put it.
   Sophmore middle blocker Alexis Urbach had a monster night for the Buffs with 21 kills and just one hitting error all match.
   "She has put in a lot of time and commitment to become what she is," Smith said of Urbach.
   "She continues to grow and for her to establish herself like she did was great," he added.
   Smith made some changes to his lineup before the match that ended up working out like a charm.
   After starting the season playing senior Lauren Simmons at outside hitter, Smith brought the two-time all-conference libero back to her original spot, and it paid off, big time.
   Simmons recorded 35 digs for the Buffs with her stellar defensive play, showing her all-star caliber.
   Sarah Brown had a great all-around match for the Buffs with 20 digs, 11 kills and three blocks.
   "Getting this win, since it's Estacada and we usually battle with them, is a good one. It sets the tone for league," Smith said.
   Smith said while they don't want to look past this week, he feels La Salle is going to be the Buffs' next big test.
   Madras traveled to Gladstone for a TVC match Tuesday, but the result wasn't available by the Pioneer's press deadline. The Buffs host North Marion at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
   In other team news, setter Elle Renault was named the American Volleyball Coaches Association player of the week for Oregon for the week of Sept. 3, as announced on the website,
   Renault, a sophomore, racked up 58 assists and 19 digs in five sets to earn the state honor.
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