Madras VB starts slow, ends strong

Mistakes early don't bother Buffs in straight-set win

by: Billy Gates/The Pioneer - Madras’ Elle Renault leaps to block an attack from North Marion’s Brandi Bowling during a Class 4A Tri-Valley Conference volleyball match Thursday at Madras High School. With the win, the Buffs stayed undefeated in TVC play.

Rocky starts against teams in the bottom of the league are commonplace for teams near the top in high school sports. Sometimes it just takes a little while to get going, and that's exactly what happened to the Madras volleyball team Thursday night against North Marion.
   The Buffs won the match in straight sets, 25-19, 25-10 and 25-11, to stay undefeated in the Tri-Valley Conference at 3-0 - but things were a little shaky out of the gate.
   North Marion is tied with Gladstone at the bottom of the TVC with an 0-3 mark, but the Huskies were scrappy enough to hang with the less-than-sharp Buffs early on.
   But once the Buffs got rolling, North Marion couldn't come close to stopping them.
   It was apparent Madras was the more-skilled team, but by the way the first half of the opening set went, the Huskies actually led at times.
   Madras head coach Jamie Smith said it could have been an intensity and adjustment issue, both of which improved as the match progressed.
   "You try to create the consistent intensity, no matter who you are playing," he said. "It's super hard to do."
   Once the intensity came, however, Madras started to play the game they are accustomed to, and it was lights out for the Huskies.
   Senior Sarah Brown put together a great night for the Buffs with 15 kills, seven digs and was perfect from the service line in 16 tries.
   Brown only had one hitting error in the match and converted 61 percent of her attacks, which is a stat someone playing a volleyball video game would have trouble posting.
   She was a key part of a 10-1 run to start the third set for the Buffs and registered kills from multiple spots on the floor.
   "The beauty of our team is that we have multiple weapons, and it was Sarah's night," Smith said. "I didn't see a lot of hitting errors from her and she was on."
   After an error-filled second set, mostly coming from the Huskies, the third set was where the Madras attack really showed its worth.
   Following the 10-1 start, Alexis Urbach smashed a shot from the middle of the front row that pasted a North Marion defender in the face to make the score 12-6 Madras.
   Another Urbach kill, coupled with more North Marion errors, stretched the Madras lead to 19-8. Sarah Brown smacked her 15th kill of the night with authority to give the Buffs a 20-8 advantage and put the final touches on a dominant victory.
   Sophomore Elle Renault ended the second set with a tip kill that took the Huskies completely by surprise. When she tapped it over the net, it hit the floor between all six Huskies amid confusion as to who was supposed to cover the area.
   With the win, Madras improved to 4-6 overall after a brutal schedule to start the season left the team 0-5 before the first recordable win that wasn't part of tournament pool play against Benson at the Dallas Tournament.
   Urbach ended the match with 10 kills and a pair of blocks while Natalie Martin had 11 digs to lead the Buffs defense.
   The Buffs faced a much tougher task Tuesday in Milwaukie against La Salle Prep, and while the result wasn't available by the Pioneer's press deadline, Smith said that if his team wants to get to the state tournament, they need to put together complete matches against the good teams and the bad.
   "Right now, we're just trying to get everyone to work together and as a team," Smith said. "If you want to get to the state tournament, you're going to play teams like La Salle, but you have to play well against everyone."
   Last Tuesday, the Buffs took out the other Tri-Valley cellar-dweller, Gladstone, in straight sets.
   Scores were 25-22, 25-13 and 25-14, eerily similar to the night against North Marion.
   Sophomore outside hitter Shelby Mauritson led the way for the Buffs with 11 kills, while Keely Brown served up seven aces.
   Renault contributed 17 assists for the Buffs against the Gladiators.