Outside on Tuesday, the air was filled with smoke and the temperatures were hot.
Inside, at the West Linn at Lake Oswego volleyball match, the competition was smokin' hot again.
In both teams' Three Rivers League opener, the Lions and Lakers went at it hard for two hours before West Linn finally edged away to win 25-19, 21-25, 25-22, 16-25, 15-9 at Lake Oswego High School.
"It was definitely a first game but (Lake Oswego is) definitely one of our main competitors so I'm excited that we are on a good winning streak right now," said West Linn senior outside hitter Isabella Bean.
In the "first game, there's always some nerves, but I was confident that we would have the energy to pull it out at the end," added West Linn junior libero Ellie Snook.
With the win, West Linn moved to 1-0 in Three Rivers League play and set the table for the team's next foe, a 6:30 p.m. Thursday home match against St. Mary's (1-1 in TRL play). Lake Oswego, which opened league play with a three-game sweep of Newberg, fell to 1-1 in league play; next up, the Lakers will host Sherwood (0-2 in TRL play) at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.
"We were just expecting tough serves and a tough offense so we were getting (our defense) ready and we just wanted to come together and put up a strong fight, as strong as we could," said Lake Oswego junior setter Olivia Salita.
"It was a really great match — we pushed them really well," said Lake Oswego sophomore Jensen Kaelin. "We went to five (games) so it was good."
Tuesday's first game was a back-and-forth affair that was tied at 17-17 when the Lions took off on a decisive seven-point run. West Linn started that stretch when Makayla Long and Callista Noel teamed up to block Kaelin, and Bean added two kills in the next six points to give her team a 24-17 edge. The Lions then won 25-19 and took a 1-0 lead on a Lake Oswego hitting error.
Game two featured more of the same, with the Lions leading 16-12 before the Lakers closed the game on a 13-5 run. LO's Libby Elmes served two aces in a five-point run to get her team back in contention, and teammate Jackie Harmon served out the final four points, winning the game at 25-21 on an ace.
Likewise, game three was another struggle, with Bean serving her team to a 20-15 edge, LO's Julie Woolf bringing her team back within 22-21 from the service line, and West Linn finally pulling away to win 25-22 on a crosscourt kill by Makayla Long and a Noel ace.
The Lakers answered in kind to tie the match at 2-2, taking a 16-13 lead, then breaking away to score nine of the final 12 points in game four and win 25-16. Woolf, Elmes and Kaelin all notched aces down the stretch, Anna Kate Treske added two kills and Kylee Wimmer connected from the left side for the final point.
In game five, however, West Linn grabbed an early 7-2 lead, saw the Lakers close within three points four times — the last of those at 10-7 on a Jordan Noble tip — then pulled away to win on a Claire Matthiessen kill, a Hannah Hashbarger ace, a Noel spike from the middle of the net, and finally, a tip by Long to win the match 15-9.
"It's a big win on the road," said Bean, crediting new middle blockers Long and Erika Isaacson for their efforts. "I think we're a solid team and just getting the first game out of the way is definitely a big step for us."
"I think when it's close, we do a better job of playing smarter rather than going for power so that's a good thing about our team," Snook said.
From their side of the net, the Lakers said they learned a lot from Tuesday's loss.
"It was definitely a positive for starting league this way and we know we can learn a lot more from it," Kaelin said.
"We all came together and fought as hard as we could," Salita added. "I think the next time we play them, we'll be able to push a little harder and be a little more ready for what they have in store."