Aloha closes out a growth year but sees better things ahead

ALOHA — A season that included as many ups and downs as the biggest roller coaster ended in similar fashion for the Aloha volleyball team on Saturday.

The Warriors, hosting Crater in a Class 6A Play-In match at Aloha High School, came in with high hopes, found out at match time that senior leader Tricia Nystrom — their lone senior — was injured and would be unable to play, then went out and battled the Comets with all their might before falling 25-18, 25-11, 25-21.

by: MILES VANCE - SCORE FOR US - Ellie Parker of Aloha celebrates a point during her teams Saturday loss to Crater in the Class 6A Play-In round at Aloha High School.

Aloha, the fifth-place finisher in the Metro League, ended its season at 7-15. The Comets, meanwhile, improved to 10-13 after a third-place finish in the Southern Oregon Conference and advanced to meet Jesuit in yesterday's (Wednesday's) first round of the Class 6A state playoffs.

“This was a big growth year for us,” said Aloha junior outside hitter Makenzie Johnsen. “We knew it was going to be rough and hard, but we worked through it.”

“I was pretty satisfied because I know I emptied my tank and left everything on the floor,” added freshman middle blocker Ciara Lambert, who led the Warriors in kills against Crater. “And even though we couldn't come out with the win today, I'm proud of everyone on the team. We grew so much.”

Aloha was almost dead-even with Crater midway through game one, closing within 11-10 when Lambert took a set from Ellie Parker and connected for a kill down the line. But Crater won a sideout on a Destiny Fahndrich kill to kick off a 7-0 run that included two successful attacks by Megan Funderburk and gave the Comets an 18-10 lead.

The Warriors cut that gap to 23-18 with a six-point run served by Jessie Price that included two Johnsen tips for points. But Crater won a sideout on an Aloha hitting error, then won the game when Paige Berriochoa connected on a free ball to make it 25-18.

The Comets played their best game in game two, leading 5-0 early, stretching that edge to 14-6 on a Berriochoa block, then to 22-9 thanks to two Katie Britton aces and a Fahndrich kill, and closing it out at 25-11 when Kelsey Strouse scored on a free ball.

Aloha came back strong in game three, though, racing out to a 6-1 lead behind three Victoria Henry aces, then to 10-6 on a Crater hitting error. The Comets rebounded to lead 12-10 with Fahndrich serving up a pair of aces and never tailed again, though the Warriors made it close the rest of the way.

Indeed, Crater's biggest lead after that was five points, the last time at 23-18 on an Aloha error, but the Warriors got kills from both Johnsen and Miranda Hensley to close within 24-21 before the Comets put it away.

“So many of us are young and were JV players last year, but we worked hard this year and that was all we could ask for tonight,” Johnsen said. “We're a dark horse, but we're planning on coming back next year and being a lot stronger.”

“We're a junior-based team this year, so next year, we're just going to go out and dominate,” Lambert added.

To see a complete photo gallery from this match, please go to

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