LO tops Benson but No. 1 Crusaders are too tough
After a dramatic five-set opening round playoff victory over Benson, the Lake Oswego volleyball team ran into the state's No. 1 ranked team in the round of 16 and saw its stellar season end one round shy of the state tournament.
Against the Techmen, Lake Oswego got off to a strong start in front of a large contingent of fans for both teams at Benson High School.
The team didn't display any jitters and won a hard-fought opening game 25-20. The Lakers' senior leadership has helped carry the team all year long and it was on display again on Wednesday as the visitors took an early lead.
As she has been all season, Anna Gornbein was a rock for the Lakers at the net. Lake Oswego's superior size was a big advantage and Gornbein racked up a team-high 16 kills in the match.
Lake Oswego continued to keep the pressure on the Techmen in the second game. Keri Nielsen added nine kills of her own in the match as the Lakers continued to exploit their advantage on the front line.
After Lake Oswego ground out a 25-22 win in the second game, Benson was on the ropes.
And the Techmen responded. Benson scrambled well and played solid defense for much of the match and played extremely well in the third game, taking it 25-12.
'They're a very athletic team and they played an awesome match,' Laker coach K.T. Emerson said.
Benson took that momentum through to game four and continued to play well with its season on the line and the Techmen won convincingly 25-17.
That set up a thrilling fifth game that started out neck and neck.
'I think we got on our heels a bit and I told the girls before that fifth game that they needed to show that they wanted it more,' Emerson said.
Lake Oswego has had plenty of experience playing intense fifth sets this season and battling through the competitive Three Rivers League this season may have played to the Lakers' advantage.
'We've had that experience and I think that definitely helped,' Emerson said.
With the Techmen up 9-8, Amy Carlton came up with a tremendous dig that helped the Lakers win the point and they eventually won 15-13 to advance in the playoffs.
Lake Oswego then went up against a Crusader team that has been virtually unbeatable in recent weeks.
The Lakers played well, getting some key contributions from Gornbein and Sarah Porter at the net but the Crusaders were simply too tough.
'Jesuit came out on fire. It was a fun match and our goal was to push them a bit and I think we did at times,' Emerson said.
Jesuit won the match in straight sets 25-11, 25-11, 25-8 and is one of the favorites to take home a state title this year.
Lake Oswego had a tremendous season and will lose a good portion of its key contributors this year but the youth program continues to grow and the JV 1 and 2 teams each had terrific seasons as well.
'It was a wonderful season and I don't have any complaints. The energy in the program is fantastic right now,' Emerson said.