After an impressive win over Reynolds, West Linn falls to Central Catholic in the second round

West Linn's volleyball team wrapped up its season last week on a high note, albeit one win shy of the state tournament.

But the team had a difficult road ahead of it. If the Lions could get past a strong Reynolds squad which recently beat them at the West Linn Invitational, the defending state champions from Central Catholic loomed on Saturday.

The Lions opened up with Reynolds on Halloween night at Wilsonville High School last week and played perhaps its best volleyball of the season, in a 21-25, 25-12, 30-28, 25-16 win.

Reynolds set the tone early in the game, playing with the confidence that came from its 25-27, 25-20, 16-14 win just a week-and-a-half earlier.

The Raiders limited their mistakes early and held on to a slim lead, grinding out the opening set 25-21.

But West Linn was hardly fazed. The Lions jumped on Reynolds early in the second set and never looked back.

“I was a little concerned after we lost the first set but the girls responded well,” coach Carl Neuberger said.

West Linn caught the Raiders off guard and Reynolds never recovered in the set. The Lions hit with much higher efficiency and were strong at the net as they evened the match 25-12.

“We had a lot of energy and knew we just had to take it play by play,” setter Emmalee Scheid said.

Reynolds looks poised to regain momentum in the match when they opened up the third set on a nice run.

The Lions struggled with communication and made a handful of early errors to fall behind 17-12.

West Linn would ultimately trail 22-19 and Neuberger was out of substitutions for the set as well.

Shawna Erickson had a pair of big kills to keep the Lions within striking distance. After the teams split a pair of tremendous rallies, a kill by Savannah Davis and two from Caitlin O'Neil gave the Lions a 24-23 lead. Reynolds would rally back and had three set points but the Lions continued to fight them off.

Erickson came up big in the crucial set, with three late kills as she hit the ball with authority all evening.

“I kind of lit a fire under Shawna and she played with a lot of attitude tonight,” Neuberger said.

The Lions would go up 29-28 on a tip by O'Neil before finally putting the set away to go ahead 2-1.

“There wasn't a lot of time to think. We just had to keep executing,” Scheid said.

West Linn kept its momentum going into the fourth set, taking a quick 7-3 lead behind some strong serving from Davis.

The Lions would go on another run behind good serving from Courtney Misner while Davis and O'Neil punctuated the run with a big block.

Scheid also had a nice match finding her hitters, battling through illness in the process.

The Lions closed out the set convincingly and advanced to the round-of-16.

Awaiting West Linn was Central Catholic, the No. 1 ranked team in the state once again heading into the playoffs.

The Rams are still perhaps the favorite to win the state title this year but have looked more vulnerable this season than in years past.

But Central Catholic showed up ready to play on Saturday against West Linn. The Rams were nearly flawless in the opening set, cruising to a 25-9 victory.

The Lions were competitive after the first set and played strong defense against the Rams' attack. But Central Catholic was on its game and won the final two sets 25-19, 25-19 to end West Linn's season.

West Linn will graduate nine seniors from this year's squad but will return hitters, Erickson and Davis, along with liberos Misner and Leah Beyer.

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