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Buffs dealt first league loss

Team comes away with Junction City tourney win

by: Billy Gates/The Pioneer - Madras’ Alexis Urbach (6) and Taylor Sjolund (3) try to block an attack fromMolalla’s Katie Hagler during a Tri-Valley Conference volleyball match Thursday at Madras High School. The White Buffalos won in straight sets and finish the first round of TVC play undefeated at 5-0.

After playing every Tri-Valley Conference team once, the Madras volleyball team had a perfect slate following Thursday win against Molalla.
   Five TVC matches and five wins, plus a tournament title at the Junction City Tournament, and the Buffs were rolling.
   That was until Estacada spoiled the party with a wild straight-set win over the Buffs on Monday in Estacada.
   The Rangers knocked off previously unbeaten Madras 25-22, 26-24 and 25-20.
   Buffs win it all in Junction City
   On Saturday in Junction City, the Buffs avenged an earlier loss to Cottage Grove by ousting them in the tournament final, 25-17 and 25-18, to win the title.
   Madras was the No. 1 seed into an 8-team bracket after pool play. They beat Taft in the first round with ease, 25-10 and 25-13, then knocked off Douglas in three sets in the semifinals, 22-25, 25-22 and 15-11.
   For the tournament, sophomore outside hitter Shelby Mauritson did it all. She led the team with 42 kills and chipped in 27 assists and 20 digs.
   Alexis Urbach hammered 38 kills with 10 blocks and 34 digs while Sarah Brown scored 28 kills and 12 blocks.
   Setter Elle Renault had 59 assists and contributed 13 kills and 24 digs.
   Madras head coach Jamie Smith said Caitlin Hulsey "really stepped up" for the Buffs in the championship match against Cottage Grove with 10 assists. He also said Natalie Martin gave the team a spark with "timely kills and great energy."
   In pool play, Madras defeated Douglas in two sets, Cascade junior varsity in two and split with Cottage Grove.
   Madras handles Molalla easily to claim 5-0 league mark
   Outside of an interesting third set for Madras, the Buffs more or less cruised to a straight-set win against the Indians on Thursday in Madras.
   Set scores were 25-10, 25-13, 25-17.
   In the third set, Molalla was able to tie the match at 14-14, aided by Madras mistakes and some timely kills, but the Buffs snapped out of their daze eventually.
   Urbach made a big solo block to give the Buffs an 18-14 lead, then brought it to match point with a kill off a free ball.
   Martin ended the night with what looked like a mishit, but found its way to the floor anyway for the match-clinching kill.
   With the win, the Buffs went undefeated through the first round of TVC matches, a place where Smith said his team has definitely had to work to get.
   "We thought we could do this," Smith said. "It puts the target on your back a little bit, but the biggest thing we learned from tonight is that we can't sleepwalk through sets."
   Early on, the match was riddled with mistakes, mostly coming from Molalla, but the Indians started to capitalize on some Madras mistakes in the second set.
   Molalla was able to work the set to as close as four points, 11-7, but the Buffs ran off 10 points to Molalla's three to take a commanding 21-10 lead.
   While the Buffs picked up just one win during the traditional nonconference schedule, before TVC play started, Smith said it was just a matter of the team chemistry and the young group starting to blend with the older players.
   "It just took some time to mesh," Smith said. "We had tough games early on and we were able to learn from them."
   The result from Wednesday's match against Gladstone at home was unavailable by the Pioneer's press deadline.
   The Buffs will play in the Seaside Tournament on Saturday.