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Lady Vikings earn first state playoff berth since 2005


Forest Grove punches its playoff ticket with a victory over Lincoln in the play-in round

Heading into last Saturday’s OSAA Class 6A play-in match, the Forest Grove volleyball team had a score to settle with Lincoln.

Last year, the Cardinals knocked the Lady Vikings out of the postseason in the teams’ play-in match. This year, the Vikings wanted revenge.

“The girls were really hungry for it,” Forest Grove coach Nicole Miles said. “They wanted to go out there and show them that this was a new team.”

The Lady Vikings earned their redemption on Saturday,

defeating Lincoln 25-23, 25-18, 17-25, 25-20 to earn the program’s first state playoff appearance since 2005.

Miles says she never doubted that Forest Grove (7-13, 4-10) could walk out of the gym with a win.

“I believed whole-heartedly in my team,” Miles said. “We’ve

been playing really solidly the last couple of weeks. The attitude, the excitement, the unity that’s been developing on the team sent us into Saturday feeling very confident.

“I had a good feeling. We prepped, we watched tape on Lincoln. We prepped the girls really well physically and mentally.

The question was whether they were going to come in and be confident in themselves and each other.”

Leading up to the match, Miles and her coaching staff had the players focus more on themselves than on Lincoln.

“We prepped the girls, not so much for what Lincoln was going to do, but what we needed to do ourselves,” Miles said.

“We went through serves and service to receive countless times every day with the girls — those tedious drills that are so necessary when it comes down to crunch time.”

When the match began, the Lady Vikings were firing on allcylinders.

“We served very well,” Miles said. “We served to 93.5 percent in that match. It was really key for us. We passed the ball really well, which gave our setters opportunities to provide hitting opportunities for our hitters, and our hitters carried the ball from there. And then it was our defense. We had some of the most exciting rallies that I’ve seen all season.”

As the match neared its end, Miles could see the excitement showing in her players’ body language.

“They were jumping up and down,” Miles said. “When it was 24-20, they were all just waiting for the ball to hit the ground on the other side.”

When the match ended, the coaches and players experienced both relief and euphoria.

“It was a huge relief that came over all of us that our preparation paid off and the girls performed,” Miles said. “And it was a huge adrenaline rush. It was just a really, really good feeling. We’ve been working so hard at just being consistent and being the aggressors in the game.

“The hard work paid off for the girls and it was so exciting to see them revel in the excitement, knowing that we’ve worked really, really hard for this.”

After the immediate emotions died down, the team quickly began thinking about trying to keep its season alive.

“It was like, ‘OK, we’ve accomplished this goal, let’s start on the next goal,’” Miles said.

The next goal will not be easy to accomplish, though. Miles predicts that in the fi rst round of the playoffs, the Lady Vikings will be matched up against either Jesuit or Central Catholic, both volleyball powers.

“It’s a huge matchup, absolutely huge. But, at this point, we’re just going to go all out no matter who we play and we’ll see what happens,” Miles said. “For us to know that we

played the best we could, we need to continue serving well, staying together as a team, talking each other through the ups and downs that happen in any volleyball match, riding those waves of momentum that we get and just fighting and

staying aggressive. That’s how we’ll measure how we do regardless of who we play.”

Even if Forest Grove is not able to pull of an historic upset, Miles is thrilled with how the 2012 season has gone.

“To see where the girls started from back in the summertime to where they are now, it’s such a good feeling as a coach to know that these girls really put their heart and soul into what they wanted to accomplish,” Miles said. “It’s been a huge success."