Lions give a pair of top-eight teams a scare

by: MATTHEW SHERMAN - Leah Beyer sets a ball during West Linn's four-set loss against No. 3 Roseburg last week. West Linn's volleyball team crashed the party at Liberty High School last week, advancing to the tournament despite being ranked No. 22 in the state. But, even in a pair of losses, the Lions more than proved they belonged on the big stage, hanging with No. 3 Roseburg and league rival Clackamas.

The Lions opened the tournament against the Roseburg Indians, a team that had only lost three matches all season, to No. 5 Sprague and to eventual 4A and 5A champions Crook County and West Albany.

The team's record also included a tournament win over Jesuit. But the Lions were prepared and jumped out against the Indians in the opening set.

West Linn led 11-8 in the early going prompting Roseburg to call timeout. The Indians then rattled off seven straight points, using strong blocking to seemingly regain control.

But the Lions chipped away at the lead and an ace from Leah Beyer gave them a 20-19 lead.

West Linn would score three straight points to go up 23-19 before Roseburg rallied with three of its own.

A kill from Shawna Erickson clinched the first set for the Lions at 25-22, giving the team an extra boost of confidence.

But Roseburg righted the ship quickly. The Indians dramatically cut down on their mistakes and made it difficult for the Lions to hit cleanly in the second set, taking an early lead and rolling to a 25-15 win, tying the match.

The Indians kept that momentum going in the third set, keeping the Lions' defense on its toes. Digs from Beyer, Courtney Misner and Hanna Rucker kept West Linn in the match but the Indians took a 2-1 lead with a 25-20 victory.

In the fourth set, West Linn rallied again, spreading the ball around and getting kills from Erickson, Savannah Davis and Hannah Clarke.

The Lions would take an 18-16 lead as they tried to force a fifth set but Roseburg would close things out decisively, going on a 9-0 run to win the set and the match.

In consolation, West Linn took on No. 7 Clackamas, a team that had tied for the league title and had beaten the Lions twice in the regular season.

Again, that didn't seem to matter for West Linn as the Lions appeared more ready to play in the early morning match, taking an early advantage and closing out the opening set 25-20.

Clackamas rallied to win the second set convincingly 25-14 but West Linn refused the quit. The Lions played well in clutch situations in the match, closing out a 25-21 victory in the third to regain the lead.

But the Cavaliers, with a senior-heavy team, were up to the challenge, winning a tight fourth set 25-22 and the fifth 15-11. Clackamas would go on to take the fourth place match in straight sets over Sheldon.

Still, the Lions finished the season on a positive note. The team will graduate four seniors in Erickson, Beyer, Mackenzie Granville and Ali Isaacson but should return one of its more experienced teams in a few seasons next fall.

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