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Pacer volleyball sweeps Tualatin, eyes playoff spot

After another five-set loss, Lakeridge picks up a crucial TRL victory

Photo Credit: MATTHEW SHERMAN - Lakeridge freshman Deborah Brigman hits a spike through the Tualatin block in the Pacers' win over the Timberwolves. 
The Lakeridge volleyball team has already proven its resiliency this year. Despite a bevy of tough five-set losses against strong teams in the exceptionally balanced Three Rivers League, the Pacers continue to play with confidence and it paid off on Monday.

Coming off its second five-set loss of the season to first-place West Linn, Lakeridge played what coach Wendy Stammer said was its “best match of the season” against Tualatin, winning it convincingly in straight sets 25-9, 25-19, 25-22.

The victory keeps the Pacers very much in the running for one of the league's four automatic playoff berths and may give the team the boost it needs to finish its last handful of league matches on a positive note.

“It's been draining at times but those matches have also been confidence builders, knowing we're right there with some of the best teams in the state,” Stammer said.

Lakeridge took advantage of Tualatin's sluggish start in the opening set. The Timberwolves, the only team in the TRL to knock off West Linn so far this year, made numerous errors and the Pacers didn't help them out, serving well and keeping the ball in play.

Tualatin started to find its footing in the second set but Lakeridge would, again, jump out to an early lead, getting back-to-back service winners from Mia Berard.

Lakeridge continued to hold Tualatin at arm's length, never allowing them to get closer than within three points as Mallea Anderson had a pair of kills.

Lakeridge closed out the set to go up 2-0 and was firmly in control of the match.

But Tualatin wasn't finished. The Timberwolves ran off six straight points to grab an 11-6 advantage in the third set and the Pacers were in danger of seeing the momentum shift and being drawn into another potential nail-biter.

Tualatin would go up 17-11 before Lakeridge mounted a rally. Freshman Deborah Brigman had a key tip and a pair of kills to spark a run of five straight points to put the Pacers back in the set.

Still, Lakeridge didn't take the lead until back-to-back kills by Kacie Van Stiphout and Anderson plus a service winner from Emily Scott.

“We really stayed patient tonight which was great to see,” Stammer said.

Now leading 22-20, Lakeridge calmly came up with side-outs to lock up the win, getting a kill and a stuff at the net from Brigman to wrap up the win.

Lakeridge is now 4-6 in league and tied for fifth place, just one game behind Tualatin in the standings.

“The top four go and at least one good team is probably going to miss out of the playoffs. These are the teams we need to beat to get up into that No. 3 or 4 spot,” Stammer said.

Meanwhile, Lake Oswego still remains firmly in the third place position in the TRL. Lake Oswego picked up a solid four-set win over Tigard last week but then ran into an inspired Sherwood team on Tuesday.

The Bowmen played one of their best games of the season and exemplified the amount of parity in the league this year, coming away with a 25-21, 25-10, 20-25, 14-25, 25-13 victory.

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