Tigard knocks off the two-time defending league champ

by: DAN BROOD - VICTORY DANCE -- The Tigard High School volleyball team celebrates after getting the winning point in the match against Century. HILLSBORO — The past two years, only one thing has stood between the Tigard High School volleyball team and the Pacific Conference championship — Century.

In each of the past two seasons, the Tigers placed second in the final conference standings at 12-2 — with the team’s only league setbacks coming at the hands of the 14-0 Jaguars.

But things are different this year.

Very different.

The determined Tigard squad, with its sites set on the Pacific Conference title, took a big early-season step toward possibly reaching that goal by posting a 25-21, 26-24, 25-18 win over Century in a conference match played last Thursday at Century High School.

“My gosh, this is so big,” Tigard senior outside hitter Lindsey Rosette said after the match. “We haven’t beat them in two years. The adrenaline was crazy.”

“To do it this year, as seniors, is amazing,” said Tigard senior middle blocker Michelle Simmons, who was shedding some tears of joy after the victory. “I was really emotional. It was so exciting. Even when I was on the bench, I was on the edge of my seat.”

Century, which brought a 29-match conference winning streak into last Thursday’s contest, moved to 1-1 in league play at that point with the setback.

Tigard improved to 2-0 in conference play, putting the Tigers in a tie with Newberg for the top spot in the standings at that point.

“I’m very proud of the girls,” Tigard coach Rob Coelho said. “I told the girls that we hadn’t be able to beat them here in awhile. This was a good win for us. They’re a good team and very well coached.”

The Tigers got off to a strong start to the contest. With the score tied at 4-4 in the first set of the match, Tigard a point on a kill by junior Ashley Holzgang, and the Tigers took off from there.

With Rosette serving, Tigard scored four straight points, two coming on kills by Simmons and sophomore Cassie Erickson, to take an 11-5 lead.

by: DAN BROOD - BIG BLOCK -- Tigard junior Sasha Hershey (11) goes up high at the net for a block during the Tigers' win at Century. The Tigers pushed the lead to 18-12 following a point on serve by freshman setter Hannah Miller.

Century was able to trim the margin to 20-17, but the Jaguars couldn’t get any closer.

Tigard, getting a block and an ace serve by Simmons, and set-winning kill by Erickson, closed out the 25-21 first set win.

The second set started well enough for the Tigers. They took a 9-8 lead on a kill by Erickson and they were up 13-10 following an ace serve by Simmons.

But then things turned around — in a big way.

Century, behind the serving of senior Shian Labay Young, scored nine unanswered points to claim A 19-13 lead. That seemed to put the Jaguars in the driver’s seat for the second set.

But Tigard had a different idea.

“We knew we had to be mentally tough,” Rosette said. “We had to take it one point at a time.”

Tigard, trailing 19-13, began to battle back. With Erickson serving, and with Century coming three straight errors, the Tigers trimmed the margin to 19-17.

Century scored the next two points to go up 21-17 before Tigard got a kill by junior Sasha Hershey to trim the margin to three.

A kill by Erickson off a set by Miller tied the set at 21-21. But Century scored the next three points to go up 24-21.

But Tigard, again, came roaring back. A point on serve by Tigard sophomore libero Jenna Horton and three Century hitting errors powered the Tigers to a 25-24 lead. Simmons then came through with a block for the winning point of the Tigers’ improbable 26-24 second set win.

“To come back and win like that was incredible,” Simmons said. “And that carried over to the third game.”

Still, the persistent Jaguars came out strong to start the third set. They went up 11-8 on a point on serve by senior Mikayla Woiwor.

But, again, Tigard came roaring back.

A kill by Erickson ignited a nine-point Tigard scoring streak, which also included another kill by Erickson and a block by Hershey, giving the Tigers an 18-12 lead.

A kill by Rosette, an ace serve by junior Kaylie Boschma and a kill by Hershey pushed the margin to 24-15.

Century, not giving up, scored the next three points to make the score 24-18. But Rosette scored the match-clinching point on a kill off a set by Miller to wrap up the three-set win and start Tigard’s victory celebration.

“That was an incredible win,” Simmons said. “This was so much fun — it’s why I play volleyball.”

“We were really motivated,” Rosette said. “This gives us momentum for the rest of the season.”

“We stayed strong in the middle and really hustled,” Coelho said of the keys to victory. “I’m excited about our freshman setter. She showed a lot of poise for a freshman. Kaylie Boschma really shakes things up for us and our seniors came through. It was fun.”

On Tuesday, Tigard lost a thriller as it fell 21-25, 26-24, 25-16, 25-27, 18-16 to McMinnville in a league match held at Tigard High School.

The Tigers will be back in action tonight (Thursday) when they face rival Tualatin in a conference match starting at 6:45 p.m. at Tualatin High School. On Saturday, Tigard will play at the Tualatin Tournament, which will start at 8 a.m. The Tigers return to conference play on Tuesday, when they travel to Hillsboro for 6:45 p.m. contest.

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