Clackamas High volleyballers breeze through the state playoffs

The Clackamas Cavaliers last week breezed through the Class 6A high school volleyball playoffs, earning themselves a spot in the eight-team Class 6A State Tournament for the third year in a JON HOUSE - Juniors Lauren OBrien (2) and Caroline Combs (12) battle at the net in last weeks Clackamas playoff win over McNary.

Ranked seventh in the state in the OSAA RPI rankings, the Cavaliers enter this week’s state tournament with high hopes of improving upon the last two seasons. They beat Central Catholic in last year’s third-place final, after losing to Aloha in the third-place final and placing fifth at state in 2011.

“I feel really good about our chances,” said Clackamas coach Jim Stultz. “We’ve been playing really well the last month.”

Last week’s state playoff matches with McNary and Tigard went quickly. The Cavaliers dispatched with Tigard 25-12, 25-14 and 25-19 last Friday, after dropping McNary in three games, 25-20, 25-14 and 25-21, earlier in the week.

Stultz said of the match with Tigard: “The girls played a complete game. They played well.”

Lauren O’Brien and Taylor Agost packed the one-two punch on offense, recording 15 and 13 kills respectively. O’Brien was at the top of her game, connecting on 15-of-17 attempts, for a .882 attack percentage.

Caroline Combs excelled on defense, with 14 digs.

Emiko Kahler was sharp at the service line, with four aces on 14 serves and just one service error.

Marissa Rhodes had 34 assists.

Agost and O’Brien also headed the offensive assault against Aloha, each with 15 kills.

Combs had a strong passing game, with 15 digs. She also had 14 on-target serves and only one service error.

Rhodes sparked the offense with 29 assists.

The Cavaliers face a stiff challenge in this Friday’s state tournament opener, battling Three Rivers League rival Lakeridge at 10 a.m. in the quarterfinals. Lakeridge enters the match with an overall record of 23-2 and a second-in-the state ranking.

by: JOHN DENNY - The athletes on Clackamas High Schools volleyball team have a lot to be proud of this season. With a win over West Linn in last weeks last match of the regular season, they earned a share of their fourth straight Three River League title. Pictured are: (front, from left) Celeste Coryell, Cassidy Scott, Bailey Bremer, Tara Deaver-Noblisse, Emma Chizum, Shelby Torgerson, Taylor Agost and Julia Jenkins; and (back) Emiko Kahler, Anjola Oladapo, Caroline Combs, Lauren OBrien, Marissa Rhodes, Jensen Perrick and Ally Atkeson.Clackamas and Lakeridge tied for the 2013 TRL title, splitting in head-to-head play.

Lakeridge won a four-game match when the two teams went head-to-head in their Sept. 17 league opener at Lakeridge. Clackamas avenged that loss, winning 25-19, 27-25, 22-25, 25-22 in an Oct. 3 rematch at Clackamas.

“That’ll be a war,” Stultz said of the quarterfinal match-up with the Pacers. “We’re going to have to play well, just like we did the second time we played them.”

The winner of Friday morning’s quarterfinal match will advance to a championship semifinal match Friday at 6:30 p.m. against the winner of a Friday morning match between third-ranked Roseburg and unheralded West Linn.

West Linn, the No. 4 team from the TRL — behind Clackamas, Lakeridge and Lake Oswego — advanced to the eight-team state tournament with wins over Hillsboro, 11th-ranked Reynolds and St. Mary’s in postseason play.

“Lake Oswego also made the final 16,” Stultz said. “Four of six [league] teams in the top 16 and three in the top eight is pretty good. I think our tough league schedule and tough nonleague schedule will benefit us at the state tournament.”

The Class 6A State Tournament runs Friday and Saturday at Liberty High School, with the third-fifth and fourth-sixth place games set for noon on Saturday, and the championship final Saturday at 8:30 p.m.

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