Estacada wins rollercoaster second game en route to 3-1 victory

For years, the matchup between Estacada and La Salle has taken place seemingly to determine which team would wear the crown of Tri-Valley League volleyball champion. With Madras making a strong push, however, it appears that won’t be the case this PHOTO BY LOREN NIBBE - The Rangers celebrate after the emotional victory over the rival Falcons.

But as Estacada and La Salle found out Thursday night, that definitely didn’t do anything to lower the intensity.

In front of a packed gym, the Rangers beat the Falcons 3-1 to retain second place in the league.

With intensity high, both teams came out of the gates rusty as the early going was plagued with errors on both sides of the floor. After La Salle sent its first two kill attempts of the game way long, it was the Rangers who watched the ball fall in between a group of girls as the score stood at 2-1.

The trend continued as the teams traded serves into the net, spikes that sailed long and passing errors as the score stood at 7-7. Then the Estacada front line started to come alive.

Things got going with a pair of powerful spikes from sophomore Tori Johnson, which sparked a 6-1 Rangers run and forced La Salle to call timeout. The Rangers lead would shrink to three before another barrage of Ranger points, this time led by senior Rachel Lowe.

With the score at 15-12, Lowe rattled off a block and back-to-back kills for a 3-point streak that was capped off by an ace from Mackenzie Gipple, which put the lead at 19-12 and forced another La Salle timeout.

From there, the lead would never get below six points, as the Rangers cruised to a 25-15 victory. In the final stretch in which the Rangers outscored La Salle 11-3, the Rangers had five kills, an ace, a block and the benefit of four Falcon errors.

If the Rangers had any idea that all three games would be that easy, those illusions were quickly dispelled.

La Salle jumped out to an early 5-2 lead in the second game, stunning the once-raucous crowd as the Estacada momentum was quickly reined in.

That run ended with a kill from senior Sam Hammons that Estacada desperately needed. After two more points, the Rangers promptly tied the game up at five.

As would become a theme in this match, the Rangers fell asleep immediately after tying up the game as La Salle went on a quick 5-0 run and forced head coach Shawna Lippert to call timeout.

Whatever Lippert said in that timeout definitely worked.

The Rangers came out hot with an impressive 6-1 run fueled by two kills from Johnson and one from Lowe, as the game was once again tied.

For the second time, however, the Rangers fell right back asleep.

The Falcons answered with a 6-0 run of their own, opening up a 17-11 lead as Lippert called another timeout.

Apparently needing a major pep talk, the Rangers came out hot from the timeout once again on another 6-1 run to pull within one point at 18-17 before La Salle called a timeout of their own.

With the crowd back involved, the Rangers turned to sophomore Sarah Davies to close out the game.

After a bad serve put the Rangers down 19-17, Davies notched three of the next four points with kills, tying the game up at 20. A La Salle error gave the Rangers their first lead of the game, and from there, they never looked back.

An impressive dig from libero Haley Lusher, a block from Lowe and Genna Settle, and a massive kill from Johnson fueled the Rangers down the stretch as they escaped with a 25-22 victory.

After ending the first game on a 11-3 run, the Rangers closed out game No. 2 on a 14-5 run.

“It’s always awesome to comeback,” Davies said. “We know we’ve done it before, and so not once did we think it was over. It’s just an amazing feeling to come back like that and to trust everyone the way we did.”

The Rangers looked poised to close out the match in game three, opening up an early 6-3 lead behind more impressive play from Davies and Lowe. But the Falcons wouldn’t quit.

The Falcons took an 11-8 lead after a 5-0 run midway through the third game and maintained it thanks to a number of Estacada errors. It seemed like every time the Rangers were nearing a comeback, they shot themselves in the foot.

The Falcons won the third game 25-20, but of the Falcons’ final 15 points, 11 came from Estacada errors.

Knowing that anything could happen if the match went to a fifth game, the Rangers came out quickly in game No. 4, as Davies and Hammons produced kills that gave Estacada an early 3-0 lead.

With a lead hovering around three for most of the game, the Falcons went on a quick 4-0 run midway through to take their first lead at 14-13.

For the third time on the night, Lippert called timeout, regrouped her team and sent them out blazing hot.

“Normally I just say that we’ve got this and that we need to be aggressive,” Lippert said. “I tell them to believe in themselves and their skills, let them know that we’re in our house.”

This time, the Rangers came out on a 4-0 run that gave them the lead for good. The game was capped off by a perfect kill from Tori Johnson that landed just inside the back corner as the Rangers defeated La Salle 25-21.

From their, the Rangers headed into the high school common area for a team meeting, but not before letting out a collective war cry as a sigh of relief.

“We’ve been working on the mental part because we have the skills to win, but too often we just play with our heads,” Davies said. “We went in tonight with a positive mindset, and we just trusted each other.”

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