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Bulldogs keep pace in TVC

Culver pounds Western Mennonite in league play
The Culver volleyball team made it eight straight match wins with a straight-set win against Western Mennonite in a Tri-River Conference match Thursday in Culver.
   Set scores were25-21, 25-14 and 25-17.
   Bulldogs head coach Randi Viggiano said it was a "typical slow start" to the match for her team, but eventually the `Dogs started pounding away.
   "When we turn it on, we turn it on," Viggiano said. "After we tied the score in the first set, I don't think we trailed at any other point in the whole match."
   Sophomore outside hitter Shealene Little had a monster night for Culver, leading the match with 19 kills.
   Senior middle blocker Cassie Fulton had seven kills and six blocks while freshman Lynze Schonneker served up three aces.
   Senior Gabrielle Alley tied Little for the team lead in digs with eight and setter Jahnie Cleveland dealt 26 assists in the winning effort.
   "We took lots of big swings and played great defense," Viggiano said.
   The Pioneers aren't a bad team by any means, they came into the match tied for fourth in the conference, but Culver is a team focused on not just making the state playoffs, but earning a higher placing than last year's fourth-place finish. They have the talent to do it, but Viggiano said it's been a matter of consistency for this year's team.
   "We can't continue to let teams get out to fast starts and build leads," Viggiano said. "Luckily, we've been able to battle back and deal with it, but we can't let teams control the tempo."
   With the state tournament about a month away at Ridgeview High School in Redmond, it's tough not to think about if you're Culver. After last season's consolation finish, and most of the team returning, they are expected to make it back, but are still a young bunch that deals with growing pains from time to time.
   Viggiano said a turning point in the season, from a leadership standpoint, came at the McKenzie Tournament.
   "We struggled with big games early on. We played not to lose, rather than to win," she said. "But at that tournament, I could see the growth in the team and the leadership just improved a ton."
   As good teams always do, Culver will continue to work on the fundamentals, every day, Viggiano said, and the team knows there's always something they can do to improve.
   "You just can't forget the basics and practice like there are no small things," Viggiano said. "The intensity in our gym needs to be higher than that of any game we'll play the entire year."
   The result for Tuesday's match in Mill City against Santiam, and Wednesday's home match against league-leading Kennedy, were not available by the Pioneer's press deadline.