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Madras spikers headed to playoffs

Buffs finish league in first-place tie
The Madras volleyball team has a problem that most teams would love to have.
   They aren't sure they'll get a first-round playoff bye, or end up having to play in the first round at home. Oh, what an issue.
   After Thursday's straight-set victory against La Salle Prep, a team the White Buffalos were tied in second place with entering the match in the Tri-Valley Conference, the Buffs' focus is now on finishing the conference season and await their playoff draw.
   Since Tuesday's results against Molalla, the TVC finale for the Buffs, weren't available by the Pioneer's press deadline, it was unkwown if the Buffs could capture at least a share of the TVC title with Estacada.
   All they had to do was beat Molalla, a team they pounded in straight sets earlier in the year in the Madras, to clinch a share of the title.
   At any rate, the Buffs are playoff-bound this season with hopes to advance past the play-in round. They lost in last year's play-in round to Banks, 3-1, after a third-place TVC finish sent them on the road.
   On Monday night, Estacada beat La Salle Prep in straight sets to complete the TVC season at 9-1. A win Tuesday will put the Buffs and Rangers in a tie for first, and the No. 1 seed and first-round play-in bye will go to the team with the higher OSAA RPI standing, which won't be confirmed until all matches are completed this week.
   Also on Monday, in an effort to boost their RPI, the Buffs traveled to Class 4A No. 2 Sisters for a match scheduled last week by Madras HS Athletic Director Rory Oster.
   The Buffs were able to take one set off the Outlaws, but eventually lost in four. Set scored were 25-18, 25-15, 16-25 and 25-15.
   Buffs take out La Salle, honor senior players
   On Thursday in Madras, the Buffs got the best of La Salle in a 3-set match, 25-23, 27-25 and 25-17.
   For four seniors on the team - Sarah Brown, Lauren Simmons, Natalie Martin and Caitlin Hulsey - it was their last regular season game in Buffalo blue and white on their home floor, and winning was a pretty special moment, Brown said.
   "It was really important to not just the seniors, but to the whole team, that we were able to pull this out," Brown said. "We just kept pushing and never let up."
   Simmons, an all-conference libero for the Buffs, agreed.
   "It feels great," she said. "It's kind of sad, but it's great we got them in three and played like we did."
   La Salle Prep played well enough to stay with the Buffs' dynamic attack, but both teams made their fair share of mistakes. Madras just happened to take more advantage of timely La Salle mistakes, especially in the second set when the Falcons committed two hitting errors at crucial points.
   The most costly error gave the Buffs a 25-24 lead, but after a La Salle kill nearly made up for, Brown smacked a kill and sophomore Elle Renault served up an ace to end the set.
   Madras jumped out to a 12-4 lead in the set, but La Salle fought back and took a lead late.
   The Buffs were able to to tie the match on an Alexis Urbach block at 23-23, then they were able to take it from there.
   Madras had to battle back from a 10-6 deficit in the third set, but went on a huge 10-1 run to take control of the set, capped by Brown's big kill after a bad pass by La Salle ended up at the net for Brown to smash.
   Sophomore outside hitter Shelby Mauritson blasted a kill, one that drilled a La Salle defender in the face, to make the score 19-15 and set the tone for the rest of the set.
   Urbach and Brown ended the match with 11 kills each, while Mauritson chipped in nine.