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Sandy sweeps Parkrose to even its league record and stay in the hunt for a postseason home match

Parkrose had a concrete plan to stay close with Sandy in Thursday’s volleyball matchup – don’t do anything too flashy or drastic and let Sandy beat itself. That plan may have been fine in theory, but the Pioneers didn’t play along.

Sandy showed up as if it had nothing to lose and punished the passive Broncos in a 3-0 sweep (25-22, 25-16, 25-21).

“I thought the girls played as loose as they have in a while,” Sandy coach Chris Meyers said. “They had a lot of fun and they just played.”

The Pioneers set the tone for the match in the opening set. They were aggressive and confident in their approach on every possession. On the other side of the net, Parkrose took a defensive strategy and just tried to keep the points alive for as long as possible in hopes of inducing a Sandy misfire.

For most of the set, Parkrose’s strategy was hit-and-miss. Sandy would take a slight lead by stringing together a few straight accurate hits, then the Broncos would steal it back when the Pioneers’ hits went long or wide.

“Parkrose is as scrappy a team as there is in our league and while they may not have the best record, they are going to make you earn every point you get,” Meyers said. “They keep the ball in play and just keep putting it back to your side and wait for you to make the mistake.”

In that opening game, there were nine ties and seven lead changes. The Broncos’ lack of assertiveness eventually caught up to them and allowed Sandy to get into a rhythm. The Pioneers gained more accuracy on their passes from the back row, especially from Paige Eisert who made several perfect passes on balls that initially appeared out of her reach. Sandy’s improved passing game gave the setters all they needed to work with.

Sandy’s hitters nullified Parkrose’s entire strategy with their power and accuracy. While Eisert was rising to the occasion in the back, Jenny Covington had a break-out performance offensively. Covington hit with more velocity and self-belief than ever before and provided the Pioneers with a crucial jolt.

“Paige had her best game of the season. Her passing is a huge part of why we were able to get so many good attacks,” Meyers said. “She (Covington) had her best hitting game of her career and really allowed us to keep Parkrose guessing. They weren't able to key on only one or two hitters.”

The Pioneers were not perfect and made occasional errors, but the key for them was not letting the miscues compound. They shook off most of their mistakes and didn’t ever allow Parkrose to score more than a few straight points.

“We have come so far this year in being able to play through mistakes and to keep focused on what we are trying to do,” Meyers said. “We have our moments just like any team, but I give credit to the girls for their success this year in their ability to play through whatever happens and battle to the end. That is not a mindset we have had the past couple of years.”

Sandy finished the week fifth in the NWOC with a 5-5 record. The Pioneers are 13th in the RPI rankings, putting them solidly in the chase for a home match in the play-in qualifiers at the end of the month.

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