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Tenth-ranked Lions volleyball speeds toward rematch with Sandy

St. Helens set out for season sweep of Milwaukie on Thursday


SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: JAKE MCNEAL - Lilli Shriver (3), Abby Russell (4) and the 10th-ranked Lions were a game out of first in the Northwest Oregon Conference entering Thursday's game against Milwaukie in St. Helens.The Northwest Oregon Conference race is ever narrower.

The Lions (11-4 overall, 8-2 Northwest Oregon Conference), after finishing a season sweep of Parkrose at home on Tuesday and doing the same to Putnam on the road on Thursday, Sept. 29.

Brianna Cathers led St. Helens over the Broncos (2-12, 1-9) with 19 kills and three aces. Mercedes Massey landed five kills and four aces from the back row, and Lilli Shriver had five kills as well.

The Kingsmen fell to 2-10, 2-7.

The Lions headed to Milwaukie (1-12, 1-9) in pursuit of their third season sweep on Thursday, the results of which were unavailable at press time.

St. Helens will host a tournament on Saturday and play at Hillsboro on Tuesday before its crucial game at sixth-ranked Sandy at 6:45 p.m. on Oct. 18.

"We know how big of a responsibility it is to win all of our upcoming games, and we're very excited," said Cathers, a senior outside hitter. "We've been working hard. And even though we've had a few bumps in the road, we are ready to play and take on whoever."

The Lions survived the Pioneers with a three-set rally on Sept. 20 in St. Helens, and the next go-round will be just as difficult.

"I think we have to continue focusing on perfecting our skill set and growing as a team," said Massey, a senior libero. "Coach [Tom] Ray has stepped up the intensity of our practices to help us prepare. I also believe the Sandy-La Salle game that's happening Tuesday the 11th is weighing on all of our minds — that's a big game."

The Lions were a game behind No. 5 La Salle and Sandy in the Northwest Oregon Conference running as of Thursday morning.

Only seventh-ranked Hood River Valley (53), second-ranked Corvallis (39), top-ranked Marist (34) and sixth-ranked Sandy (33) have won more sets than St. Helens (32) this year.

"Staying healthy is also a focus," Massey said. "Coach [Miranda] Little is always reminding us to get plenty of rest and to eat right. Many teammates have been sick — we were out two players for La Salle, which really hurt. We are going to need to be at our best on the 18th. Time to make it happen."

Northwest Oregon Conference

League Overall Rank

La Salle Prep 9-1 11-3 31 9 5

Sandy 9-1 11-4 6

St. Helens 8-2 11-4 10

Hillsboro 5-5 6-7 23

Wilsonville 5-5 5-7 18

Putnam 2-8 2-11 27

Parkrose 1-9 2-12 30

Milwaukie 1-9 1-12 32