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Warriors punch return ticket to state tournament

The Warriors beat both McNary and Sheldon to make a return to state
by: Miles Vance TOURNEY-BOUND – Aloha’s Jasmine Osborne (center) leads her team in cheers at the end of the Warriors’ Saturday win over Sheldon.

ALOHA - The Aloha volleyball team was not going to be denied.

Not this year.

The Warriors, who celebrated their first Metro League championship (shared with Jesuit) since 1993, weren't about to let the good times stop there. They opened the Class 6A state playoffs on Nov. 2 with a 25-11, 25-19, 25-21 win over McNary, then added a 21-25, 25-15, 25-20, 25-22 victory over Sheldon on Saturday, a win that gave Aloha its second Class 6A state tournament appearance in four seasons.

The Warriors, whose two playoff wins both came at Aloha High School, will face Southern Oregon Conference champion Roseburg (25-4 and the fourth-ranked team in the state) in their 6A tournament opener, set for 8 a.m. Friday at Liberty High School.

With a win there, the fifth-ranked Warriors (20-5) would play in the state semifinals at 6:30 p.m. Friday; with a loss against Roseburg, Aloha would play again at 8 a.m. Saturday at Liberty.

'This is one of Aloha's best volleyball seasons ever,' said Aloha sophomore outside hitter Victoria Henry, who served out the final six points of her team's win against McNary. 'We're just as strong as any other team. We feel we can go all the way this year.'

Our goal is to 'get to state, win a couple games there and see what happens,' added BYU-bound senior middle blocker/setter Amy Boswell. 'We're super excited to be co-champs, but we're just trying to stay focused because we know no team is going to roll over and die at this point.'

That said, if you pummel a team long enough - as Aloha did against both McNary and Sheldon - they do eventually die.

In the win over McNary, Aloha hammered the Celtics (10-12 after placing third in the Central Valley Conference) in game one, then took over in key stretches of games two and three to win.

In game two, Aloha led just 21-18 late, but Boswell scored on a tip, Tricia Nystrom connected on a free ball, and Amanda Goringe scored in the middle for the win. In game three, the Warriors trailed 21-19 when Goringe won a sideout with a kill, and Henry took it home from there, serving five aces on the final six points.

Sheldon (16-6 and winner of Special District 1) provided a somewhat stiffer challenge on Saturday, taking game one 25-21 before Aloha hit its stride and took the next three.

'Sheldon came out in game one with a lot of energy,' Aloha coach Kellie Scholl said. 'They played very good defense, blocked a few balls (and) we were never really able to get the momentum.'

But Aloha went back to basics in game two, got killer serve-receive efforts from Danielle Jones and Henry that set the table for Boswell and Goringe.

'After game one, our girls refocused on what they do well, running a fast offense and attacking every ball,' Scholl said. 'That seemed to get us back on track.'

Jones had 15 digs in the game and Henry seven, while Boswell racked up 28 kills, and Goringe had 14 kills and three blocks as the Warriors put together three straight victories.

'We definitely have a goal to get back to the state tournament,' Boswell said. 'And now we're going to do everything we can.'

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