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Lakers, Pacers netters emerge from TRL

by: VERN UYETAKE, 
Above, Lake Oswego’s Hannah Niestradt sets to spike a ball in the team’s four-game victory over Clackamas on Tuesday that clinched a playoff berth. Inset, Anna Spalding and the Pacers also earned a playoff berth and dominated Milwaukie on Tuesday night.

One well-deserving volleyball team is going to miss out on a postseason berth from the Three Rivers League this year.

But fortunately for Lakeridge and Lake Oswego, it won't be them. It appears as if Clackamas will come out with the short end of the stick and it has the Lakers to thank for its fate.

Lake Oswego clinched a postseason berth for itself and for the Pacers when it knocked off the Cavaliers 19-25, 25-17, 25-13, 25-20 on Tuesday.

'We're very happy. It was an emotional match and the girls battled,' Laker coach K.T. Emerson said.

It was the Lakers' second win over Clackamas in league this season as the team's only losses in league have come to Lakeridge and West Linn.

Lake Oswego got off to somewhat of a slow start and appeared on the verge of falling behind by two games. But when the Lakers got momentum in their favor they proved to be unstoppable.

The Lakers established their block early in the match and jumped out to a 12-7 lead but errors allowed Clackamas to go on a big run and eventually go up 19-15.

After a kill from Anna Gornbein got the score back to 20-18 the Cavaliers ran off four straight points en route to winning the opening game.

And Clackamas was set to run away with the second game as well when they took a quick 9-1 lead before the Lakers even knew what hit them.

But Lake Oswego didn't give up. After a service winner from Amy Carlton cut the lead to four points, the Lakers went on an exceptionally impressive run.

'We had a bit of a rocky start but we've beaten Clackamas twice before and we knew we could do it,' Gornbein said.

Trailing 16-14, Lake Oswego scored 11 of the next 12 points. During that time the Lakers got back everything the Cavaliers could throw at them thanks in part to some stellar digs by Tai Locke.

'Tai came up huge tonight and she was fired up,' Emerson said.

With the match even, the Lakers had the momentum and quickly built a 7-3 lead in the third game. Lake Oswego steadily increased that advantage as Clackamas only scored two points on its serve in the entire game.

Megan Mooney had back to back kills and Hannah Niestradt was strong at the net as well. Then, up 22-13, Lake Oswego put in defensive specialist Michelle Dolinar to serve and she came up with a pair of service winners to close out the game.

The fourth game was closer as, in many ways, the Cavaliers were playing for their playoff lives.

But Lake Oswego was consistent and got some big points late in the match from Keri Nielsen. Lake Oswego trialed 20-19 but then scored the match's final six points to seal the win.

Lakeridge has one more match against Clackamas which will determine the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 seeds in the league.

The Pacers pounded Milwaukie in straight sets on Tuesday and played one of their cleaner matches of the season.

'When we played Milwaukie the first time they played great and nearly took a game off of us. But we didn't make a lot of errors and everyone really stepped up,' Pacer coach Wendy Stammer said.

Lakeridge also played well in Saturday's West Linn Invitation, its final tournament before the playoffs.

The Pacers won two games in pool play, dispatching McMinnville and Wilsonville before falling to an exceedingly strong Crook County team.

That allowed Lakeridge to advance out of its pool but the team had to quickly travel from Wilsonville High School to West Linn for its game against Southridge, the second place team in the Metro League this year.

As a result, the Pacers got off to a slow start and lost the opening game but then fought back and forth with the Skyhawks in the second game and nearly pushed the match to a third before being edged out by two points.

Lakeridge has been playing consistently in its most recent matches and has been serving extremely well.

'That's probably the one skill I've been most frustrated with this year but the whole team has been doing much better. We can put in Megan Dunn and Chelsea Canlas and they've both been solid,' Stammer said.

The Pacers will need to continue their solid play to beat a Clackamas team that has nothing to lose after being eliminated from playoff contention.

'I'm hoping we end up tied for second because that means we'll have played well in league. I don't even want to look at the brackets (for state) until after everything's done,' Stammer said.