West Linn takes a set off of No. 3 Clackamas as it gears up for a play-in match

by: MATTHEW SHERMAN - West Linn's Courtney Misner digs a ball during Tuesday's four-set loss to Clackamas played at Rosemont Ridge Middle School. The West Linn volleyball team may have received an enormous shot in the arm in a losing effort on Tuesday and it wrapped up the regular season.

Battling a Clackamas team that was unbeaten in league and currently ranked No. 3 in the state, the Lions showed a tremendous amount of fight, stealing a game from the Cavaliers and nearly forcing Clackamas to go the distance in a 25-18, 25-20, 20-25, 25-20 loss.

It marked just the second time this year that a league opponent has taken a set off of Clackamas.

The Lions played some of their best volleyball of the entire season after a shaky opening set and a half.

Clackamas looked every bit the part of a state championship contender in the early going at Rosemont Ridge Middle School.

The Cavaliers' passing was crisp and they capitalized on a handful of West Linn errors to cruise to a win in the opening set.

Clackamas looked like would put the Lions away quickly when it opened the second set by taking a 19-6 lead.

However, West Linn rallied back impressively. The Lions stopped committing unforced errors and started hitting efficiently at the net.

West Linn also received some terrific defense in the back line, getting a handful of digs from libero Leah Beyer.

The Lions forced Clackamas to call two late time-outs as the Cavaliers hung on to win the second set 25-20.

“When we don't have stretches where we string a few bad plays together, we're usually alright,” coach Carl Neuberger said.

However, West Linn carried that momentum over into the third set. The Lions jumped out to a slim lead but it was erased after some strong serving from Clackamas setter Hannah Stultz.

But the Lions weren't deterred. Tied at 16-16, the Lions went on a run thanks to strong serving from Emmalee Scheid.

West Linn went up 22-16 and continued to block well, disrupting the Cavaliers' offense and the Lions held on to force a fourth set.

“We're capable of playing inspired volleyball like that. It's more about playing with emotion since this is such an inexperienced team,” Neuberger said.

The Lions still had the momentum early in the fourth set as the teams battled back and forth. The Lions took the lead midway through the set on a well-placed hit from Scheid.

Clackamas seized control moments later with a small flurry that gave the Cavaliers a 19-15 lead. West Linn still wasn't done. A well-placed tip by Shawna Erickson cut the lead to 22-20 but Clackamas rattled off the final three points of the match for the victory.

But, on their senior night, the Lions were pleased with the way they played and they hope that the confidence will carry over into a play-in match next week.

“You never know what's going to happen. We've had some very good results in tournaments this year and there's been times where we've come out flat. We just have to find that other gear,” Neuberger said.

The Lions also competed in the West Linn Invitational last week which went off without a hitch at a handful of locations due to the fire in the West Linn High School gym.

West Linn knocked off No. 7 Sprague in pool play along with LaSalle and the Lions nearly took down Reynolds in a very tight match.

The Lions led 14-13 in the decisive third set but the Raiders scored the final three points of the match to hold on for the win.

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