Volleyball: St. Helens sweeps Putnam, gears up for tough stretch
St. Helens wrapped up a waltz through the bottom half of the NW Oregon Conference schedule, sweeping Rex Putnam 25-14, 25-8 and 25-11 to stretch their unbeaten streak to five matches, and four matches without dropping a set.
A relaxed Lion squad took an easy 12-4 lead early in the fourth set, pushing Putnam on their heels before the Lady Kingsmen responded to creep within six points.
The third set began badly enough for Putnam, it seemed as though St. Helens was in a good position for a shutout. With senior Hailee Fischer back to serve, the Lions took an 8-0 lead before Fischer sent a serve long and gave Putnam their first point. It didn't take long at all for St. Helens to hammer back, taking an 18-3 lead and holding off a Kingsmen rally before cruising to a sweep.
Senior hitter Taylor Albertson led with 16 kills, bringing her total to 44 over the last three straight-set matches. St. Helens also got another brilliant night from their servers, including a perfect 14 of 14 night from Hannah Spears with three aces. Breanna Cathers and Rianne Tupper were both perfect on all nine of their attempts.
The eighth-ranked Lions, though, are in for a drastic shift. Their last three opponents are a combined 4-23 in league play, and have won a total of 19 sets all season between the trio of bottom feeders 15 of which belong to Parkrose.
But over the next few weeks, things are about to take a far more difficult turn. The Lions head to Sandy on Oct. 2, before hosting No. 2 La Salle the only NWOC team to beat St. Helens on Oct. 6. They'll then travel to Parkrose for a double dual with the Broncos and Wilsonville, who is the only other squad outside of La Salle to have taken a set from the Lions, on Oct. 8.
Mistakes and gifting points to the opposition might not have hurt St. Helens against the bottom half of the conference, but it will certainly make life difficult against the conference heavyweights. They won't have to win the league to automatically qualify for the 16-team championship bracket, as the top-two teams from the NWOC are selected, but holding their own against Sandy and Wilsonville will go a long way toward determining whether the Lions have to participate in the play-in round.
St. Helens 3, Putnam 0
PUTN 14 08 11 0
STHE 25 25 25 0
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