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LO volleyball team tops Reynolds, falls to Lions in four

by: MATTHEW SHERMAN Lake Oswego’s Madelynn Mitchell knocks a spike through a pair of Reynolds blockers in the Lakers’ five-set opening-round victory last week.

The Lake Oswego volleyball team came up just one match short of qualifying for the state tournament this year, seeing its terrific season end in the second round of the playoffs.

The Lakers had a very competitive road ahead of them to make it to Liberty High School but both matches were winnable.

Last week Lake Oswego hosted Reynolds from the always strong Mt. Hood Conference.

Although the Raiders were a No. 6 seed, the team had impressive wins over a pair of top-10 teams in Gresham and Jesuit already this season.

And Reynolds looked every bit the part of a giant-killer in the opening set, jumping out to an early lead against the Lakers and never looking back.

The Raiders played phenomenal defense on the back line, getting back every thing Lake Oswego threw at them to claim the first set 25-14.

"Reynolds is an excellent team. This was not an easy first-round match," Laker coach Christy Burnett said.

Reynolds would then go up 5-1 in the second set before the Lakers eventually settled in.

Lake Oswego won 12 of the next 14 points, getting three kills from Erika Treske in that stretch to go up 13-8.

The Lakers led 21-14 before Reynolds rallied, getting the score to 24-23 before a kill by Nikki Spathas clinched the set and evened the match.

Lake Oswego was most effective in the match when it got the ball to its middles in Spathas and Treske, both of whom had very efficient hitting performances.

"When our serving and passing was on we were able to get the ball to the middle and that was effective for us," Burnett said.

The third set went back and forth. Heather Pippus had five kills in the game for the Lakers who ran off five straight points to lead 18-13.

Lake Oswego then played solid defense to prevent a Reynolds run and won the third set 25-18.

However, with their backs against the wall, the Raiders came out on fire in the fourth game, jumping out to a 15-6 lead and never looking back, winning the set 25-11 and seemingly reclaiming the momentum of the match.

The fifth set was neck and neck however. Lake Oswego won the first three points, getting a pair of kills from Treske but Reynolds would rally to go up 6-5.

Abby Gray then went back to serve and didn't give the ball back to the Raiders. Lake Oswego won the final 10 points of the match to advance to the second round.

In the round of 16, Lake Oswego traveled to face a very familiar opponent in West Linn.

It was the fourth time the teams met this season. The Lions and Lakers split their matches in league and Lake Oswego also beat them in a non-league tournament this year.

But West Linn is often a different beat on its home court. Lake Oswego was anything but intimidated in the early going, jumping out to a 21-14 lead and then staving off a furious West Linn rally to claim the opening set 25-23.

Lake Oswego then went up 15-11 in the second set, getting some nice play from Jennifer Braschayko on the outside.

The Lakers would go up 21-17 and were on the verge of claiming a 2-0 lead in the match before the Lions rallied again.

West Linn was terrific at the net and its blocking frustrated the Lakers.

West Linn scored seven straight points and won nine of the last 10 points in the set to win 25-22 and knot the match.

The Lions kept their run going, scoring the first seven points of the third set en route to winning it easily 25-13.

But the Lakers weren't done. Lake Oswego trailed for much of the fourth set but never let the Lions out of their sight.

Trailing 15-10, Lake Oswego continued to record side-outs and slowly chipped away at the lead, eventually tying the set at 22-22 on a tip by Spathas.

But three straight kills from West Linn's top hitter Caitlin O'Neil sealed the match and ended Lake Oswego's season.

It was a tough way to end a fantastic year for Lake Oswego which saw the team tie for the league title.

The Lakers will lose eight talented seniors this year but will still return some very key pieces next fall.

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The Lakeridge volleyball team had a rough draw this postseason. After advancing to state with a play-in victory the team squared off against powerhouse Gresham last week.

The Pacers were in the match early on but the Gophers were too strong, winning 25-21, 25-15, 25-11.

Lakeridge battled Gresham point for point in the opening set but the Gophers found their stride, fending off the visitors and then cruising in the final two sets.

Lakeridge graduates four talented seniors in Krissy Hengesh, Anna Spalding, Liz Howell and Alyssa Hitchcock but returns a very strong junior class.