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Lady Buffs grab first home win of the year in 3-1 defeat of Gladstone last Thursday.

WILL DENNER/MADRAS PIONEER - Madras players embrace after winning the fourth, match-clinching set by a close margin of 25-23. Gladstone took the third 25-22, and threatened to force a fifth set, before the Buffs were able to close it out.
Even through the defeats, the Madras volleyball team has prioritized staying positive during the 2017 season.

"I want to make sure that, not only do they stay positive, but I'm trying to stay positive for them on the sidelines as well," Lady Buffs' head coach Brianna Hewson said. "I have to set that example, so even when they make that mistake, I'm like, 'Hey, you've got the next one.'"

On Thursday, in its second to last home game, Madras defeated Gladstone 3-1 (25-20, 25-17, 22-25, 25-23) and claimed a home win for the first time this season.

A young team looking for individual and team improvement found it Thursday, especially considering the deficits that Madras found itself in. Similar to the first time the two teams met on Sept. 18 — a 3-2 Madras win — Gladstone gained leads before Madras rallied back.

Gladstone built a 12-7 lead in the first set Thursday only see the Lady Buffs storm back. Following two Gladstone serving errors and another hit past the back out of bounds line, Kiersten Anderson accounted for six of the next seven Madras points, all on aces, and Abby Evan added a kill on an overfeed. Madras took a 17-13 lead, and later was in position to win the set with a 23-20 advantage.

WILL DENNER/MADRAS PIONEER - Madras sophomore Korie Johnson (left) stepped into the role of libero against Gladstone for the first time this season and made the most of it.
A well-placed Gladstone serve nearly earned it a point, but Erica Desjardins and Korie Johnson, who was playing her first game as a libero, retreated to dig out the ball, and help set up an Anderson kill. Niyallee Cochran then served the clinching ace to win the set 25-20.

The Buffs also won the second set by a somewhat comfortable, 25-17 score, and needed just one more set to win the match.

Gladstone opened the third with a pair of aces to take a 2-0 lead. From there, the two teams traded three leads, until Madras appeared to be pulling away after Jessica Olivera's ace and a couple Gladstone miscues put the Buffs on top 15-7.

Perhaps letting their guard down, the Buffs surrendered 18 of the next 25 points to the Gladiators, who rallied to take the third set 25-22 after Elli Philo sent home the set-winning kill.

Gladstone then took a 2-0 lead in the fourth set. But when Madras answered with three of the next four points, it was the first of six lead changes in the set.

With Gladstone holding a 21-20 lead, Evan and Cochran each made a key dig to return the ball to Gladstone, which ultimately hit into the net and tied the set 21-21.

Madras claimed the next two points thanks to a pair of aces from Hannah Holliday, and came to within one point of claiming the match when a Gladstone player's shot went out of bounds on the sideline.

Once again, Gladstone threatened to steal a set after Shaye Pinner's two kills brought the score to within one, 24-23.

Following a Madras timeout, however, Gladstone hit long of the back line, giving Madras the set and the match.

"We all kept our heads up, and I think (the positivity) showed with the score," Holliday said. "When we get our heads down, our playing ability goes down. Our playing ability stayed up tonight because of our attitude."

In practice, the Lady Buffs' starters play six-on-six against the reserves, who are spotted a 23-21 lead, which the starters aim to come back from and win the set. If they don't, they are required to run.

It is a focal point for a team that has, on several occasions this season, built a lead in a set, only to watch it evaporate and lose.

"We've been doing a lot of practice on games where we're down and have to come back," Hewson said. "I've been focusing on that to make that sure that, if you're going to be in that situation, you have to learn how to fight. I'm glad they learned how to fight, and brought it back."

Madras has one match left in its season, on Oct. 17 against Crook County at home.

"I hope we do what we did tonight — come out strong, stay positive and we play to the best of our abilities," Hewson said.

Contact Will Denner at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Follow him on Twitter
@MadrasSports, @WillCDenner

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