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LHS netters sweep LO series

by: Vern Uyetake, Lakeridge’s Sydney Aldrich, right, tries to squeeze a hit past Lake Oswego’s Devon Brown during Tuesday TRL match. The Pacers won the match in four sets to remain in second place in the league standings.

The Lakeridge volleyball team kept itself in the hunt for the No. 2 playoff berth from the Three Rivers League after beating rival Lake Oswego 3-1 on Tuesday.

The victory also gave Lakeridge a sweep of the two-game season series against the Lakers, which is a rarity for these two teams.

For a while, though, it looked like the Lakers would be good enough to get another split with their rivals. At least that's the way it seemed after the host Lakers won the opening game 25-22.

'I thought that was really going to set the tone for the match,' Lakeridge coach Wendy Stammer said. 'After that game, I said, 'we're going to have a hard-fought match tonight, point for point.'

But Lakeridge's matches against Lake Oswego are always like that. When they met earlier in the season, the match went five games and the last three games were nail-biters.

And it looked like the two teams were headed for more of the same on Tuesday night, especially after that first game. But Lakeridge came back to win the next three games by scores of 25-18, 25-18 and 25-15.

'It's been a while since we've won both home and away against this team,' Stammer said. 'It is a cross-town rivalry to match no other rivalry.'

Things began to turn Lakeridge's way midway through the second game. Neither team had enjoyed much of a lead in that game until Lakeridge's Sydney Aldrich registered back-to-back kills to give the Pacers a 17-14 lead.

Lakeridge then finished off the first game with two kills by Kiersten McNairy, a setter's dump by Allyson Miller, then a tip by Lizzy Early and two kills by Lexi Ross.

Game 3 was also a virtual toss-up until the midway point. That's when McNairy picked up a pair of kills to put her team in front 18-13.

Three Lakeridge errors trimmed the Pacers' advantage to two points. But McNairy, Aldrich and Ross each followed with a point down the stretch to put the game away.

The Pacers took early control of the fourth game with a barrage that included five points by Ross. Lake Oswego made a decent comeback after that as Cassie Mitchell, Anna Gornbein and Keri Nielsen each logged a pair of kills. But the Lakers had too much ground to make up by then and the Pacers managed to cruise to victory.

'This match was key for us,' Stammer said afterward. 'This (allows) us to finish in second, or at least tied for second. So, we needed to win this match.'

After stumbling earlier against West Linn and Oregon City, the Pacers on Tuesday looked like a team that could have some success in the playoffs.

'(Against LO), we were serving tough, we were passing a lot better, and we were hitting it to their players that weren't passing as well,' Stammer said.

Lake Oswego, meanwhile, has had a run of tough luck over the last three or four weeks. That included a string of difficult losses to Clackamas, Oregon City and Lakeridge. Because of those losses, the Lakers have little or no chance of advancing to the playoffs, but Lake Oswego coach K.T. Emerson still sported a big smile after Tuesday's match.

'Well, I'm always proud of my girls,' Emerson said.

'(Monday's) practice was awesome and they came out with the energy I expected from the practice gym and they did a lot of good things (against Lakeridge).'

All of that energy might explain the way Lake Oswego played in the first game Tuesday night.

'That was all because of the practice last night … It was one of the best practices that we've had all year. And they came out strong at first, which was good.'

Lake Oswego seemingly had enough talent this year to earn a spot in the state playoffs, but the roster is filled with inexperienced players and at times that inexperience showed.

Plus, 'when things are not going our way, some questions come into our heads,' the coach said. 'But they've got to block that out and play the way that they know they can play.'