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Chance to beat WL slips away from LHS

by: Vern Uyetake, 
Lakeridge’sLexi Ross, right, shows off her form as she goes up for a kill attempt during Tuesday’s TRL match against West Linn. The Pacers were hoping to end West Linn’s long league winning streak, but the Lions prevailed in straight sets.

For a while it looked like the Lakeridge volleyball team might be the team that got the honor of breaking West Linn's long winning streak in the TRL.

For two games, the Pacers gave the Lions all they could handle Tuesday night. But the Lions barely managed to win those two games, and then won the next set with ease.

That extended West Linn's league winning streak to 118 games, a run that dates back to 1999. The Lions also secured another league championship with the victory.

Even though it was a straight-sets victory, the Lions were definitely put to the test by the Pacers.

'I thought Lakeridge had a good game plan and for two games they executed it very well,' West Linn coach Carl Neuburger said. 'Kudos to them.'

Kudos also to Lakeridge's 6-foot-1 sophomore, Lexi Ross, who carried the Pacers at times during the first two games. In the first game, Ross had seven straight kills to draw her team within a point at 18-17. A short time later, she put down a kill to give the Pacers a 23-22 lead.

But the Lions also have some big hitters and a few of them came to life when West Linn really needed them down the stretch. Betsy Wilhelm had two kills and Alyssa O'Neil and Michelle Hurt had one each as the Lions rallied for a 27-25 victory in game 1.

A flurry like that often ignites West Linn's offense for the start of the next game, and Tuesday was no exception. Hurt started game 2 with the hot hand and picked up four early points while O'Neil added a pair of tallies. That gave the Lions a 9-5 lead.

But the Lions couldn't pull away. Instead, they committed a string of errors that kept Lakeridge in the game. West Linn then got just enough offense down the stretch - with three kills by Wilhelm and two each by O'Neil and Hurt - to pull away for a 25-20.

The Pacers managed to keep the third game close in the early going. They trailed 5-4 after consecutive blocks by Kiersten McNairy, but Lakeridge had nothing left after that. West Linn then followed with a 16-2 run that included four kills by Wilhelm and two by O'Neil. The Lions then settled for a 25-10 victory.

By losing the match, Lakeridge fell into a tie with Oregon City for second place in the TRL. Assuming nothing changes after tonight's matches, a coin flip will then be held to break the tie.

If the Pacers wind up with the No. 2 seed, they would get to host a first-round playoff game next Wednesday against the No. 4 team from the Metro League. But, if the Pacers wind up with the third berth, they would have a first-round road game against the Mt. Hood No. 3 team.