Tigers rally big, but fall short in volleyball playoff tilt

Tigard, after dropping the first two games to Thurston, comes back strong
by: DAN BROOD OVER THE NET — Tigard junior Valerie Hughes reaches up to smack the ball during the Tigers' state playoff match with Thurston.

TIGARD - The season may have ended a bit early than the Tigard High School volleyball team had hoped.

But the Tigers sure did their best to make things exciting on their way out.

Tigard, after dropping the first two games in its Class 6A state playoff match with Thurston, came storming back to win the third game, and then battled the Colts back-and-forth in a nail-biting fourth game before falling 25-17, 25-19, 18-25, 25-21 in the first-round contest played in front of a loud home crowd Nov. 2 at Tigard High School.

'That was a lot of fun,' Tigard senior outside hitter Kylee Rosette said after the match. 'Especially being in front of our fans. They're great.'

'We just showed up a little late to the party,' Tigard coach Rob Coelho said. 'But our girls battled hard. I'm really proud of them for that.'

Thurston, the No. 3 team out of Special District 1, improved to 13-11 on the season with the win and advanced to play at Clackamas Saturday in a Class 6A state playoff second-round match.

Tigard, the Pacific Conference runner-up, finished its season with a final overall record of 15-5.

'It was really fun,' Tigard junior outside hitter Valerie Hughes said. 'I think we improved every single match.'

'I think this year was our peaking point,' Rosette said. 'This was a great team and we always had a lot of fun. That's why this is so hard tonight.'

Thurston, in the first game of last week's match, wasted little time in taking charge, jumping out to a quick 6-3 lead. The Tigers came back, tying the game at 7-7 behind back-to-back kills by Rosette, but they weren't able to claim the lead.

The Colts answered with a 6-0 run to take a 13-7 lead. Another Thurston scoring spree later in the game pushed the margin to 20-12. Tigard got kills by Hughes, sophomore Lindsey Rosette, coming off a set by junior Lauren Becker, from Kylee Rosette and from sophomore Michelle Simmons down the stretch, but that wasn't enough to stop Thurston from claiming a 25-17 first-game win.

It seemed to be more of the same in the second game of the match. The Colts, behind the play of Marlee Smith, jumped out to a fast 6-2 advantage.

Tigard, getting a block by Sim-mons and a kill by Kylee Rosette, cut the lead to 7-6. But, just like in the opening game, Thurston had an answer for the Tiger rally.

With Smith serving, the Colts scored five straight points to up their lead to 13-6.

Tigard again tried to come back. A block by Simmons trimmed the margin to 18-16. But the Tigers would score just three more points the rest of the game, as Thurston closed out a 25-19 win to come within one game of wrapping up the match.

But, with possible elimination being just one game away, the Tigers looked loose and relaxed as they took the court for the third game of the match - and that certainly seemed to pay dividends for the home team.

'The first couple games, we were really tense,' Kylee Rosette said. 'In that third game, we finally found our rhythm.'

Simmons had a kill and a block and Lindsay Rosette added a block as Tigard stormed to a 5-1 lead to start the third game. But Thurston, with Smith serving four aces, rallied to take a 10-7 lead.

But Tigard wouldn't be denied. After the Tigers gained a sideout, senior Sam Debenedetti had three straight ace serves, helping Tigard rally to grab a 13-10 lead.

Tigard kept rolling from there. Hughes and Simmons each had kills off sets by Becker to help up the margin to 22-18. A sideout kill by Kylee Rosette made the score 23-18. Debenedetti then had two points on serve to close out the 25-18 Tiger win.

At that point, Tigard clearly seemed to grab momentum.

'We felt like we were on top of the world,' Hughes said. 'We felt like we were going to do it.'

Neither team led by more than one in the first 19 points of the fourth game. But Thurston, getting a kill by Christiana Burt, would grab a 13-10 lead. But Tigard, getting kills by Hughes and Kylee Rosette came back to tie the game at 13-13.

Tigard, getting a kill and a block by senior Bonnie Blood, would go on to take a 19-18 lead. But Thurston would score the next three points to take a 21-19 advantage. A kill by Kylee Rosette made the score 21-20. But the Colts, taking advantage of some Tigard errors was able to hold off the Tigers and get a 25-21 match-clinching victory.

'I thought we had a chance,' Rosette said.

'I thought we were going to get it to a fifth game and win,' Coelho said. 'But they were a tough oppo-nent. It came down to execution. They did and we didn't, but I'm really proud of the girls. It was a very good season. We had some really bright moments.'

The playoff loss marked the final high school match for Tigard seniors Blood, Kylee Rosette, Hannah Coursolle, Debenedetti and Kassy Coker.

'I've got a whole bunch of good memories here,' Kylee Rosette said.

Tigard should have a strong group of returnees back next sea-son.

'We're going to miss our sen-iors,' Coelho said. 'But we've got our quarterback (Becker) back and I think we'll be just a competitive next year, if not more.'