Losses to the top teams leave Rangers in middle of the Tri-Valley pack

by: ESTACADA NEWS: PARKER LEE - Maddi Thompson (11) and Jessica Wheeler combine to put up a block during the teams win over Gladstone. “Start strong, stay strong.”

That phrase has been the battle cry shouted by Estacada’s volleyball starters at the beginning of every match. On October 1 against Gladstone, the Rangers made that motto a reality.

Estacada scored the first 12 points of the match, maintained momentum and buried Gladstone, 3-0 (25-10, 25-12, 25-9).

The 12-0 opening run showed the Gladiators they were totally overmatched. With Ashley Teel serving for Estacada, Gladstone expelled all of its energy just attempting to get a clean pass to the setter. The Gladiators did get the ball back to the Estacada side a few times, but on those infrequent occasions, the Rangers had no trouble hammering it back for effortless kills.

Gladstone finally put a stop to the run with a hit that Estacada blocked out of bounds. That one point did nothing to change the fortunes of either squad. The Rangers’ servers and hitters kept attacking and the Gladiators looked like they were just trying to get through the match.

Gladstone never scored more than a few straight points while Estacada grabbed bunches of points in each set. As a result, all three games were blowouts.

The Rangers earned their third Tri-Valley Conference win of the season, and their 10th win overall, by knocking off the Gladiators.

Following the lopsided beating Estacada put on Gladstone, the Rangers’ momentum was halted by the league’s top two teams, La Salle Prep and Madras.

On Thursday, La Salle took control with a near-flawless opening set against the Rangers. Estacada bounced back and was in contention in the second and third sets, but fell in both games to suffer a 3-0 sweep (25-10, 25-21, 25-23).

The Rangers dropped their second straight match as they came up short in a tough battle at Madras on Monday. Estacada found itself in a 2-0 hole after two sets, but fought to claim a 25-23 third-set win to keep the match going. Not wanting to face a do-or-die fifth set, Madras closed out the match by taking the fourth game.

Estacada fell to 3-3 in league play with the setbacks at La Salle and Madras. The Rangers now sit in third place in the conference and are sitting at No. 20 in the class 4A rankings. They return home on Tuesday to face rival Molalla.

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