Communication is the Westview volleyball team’s principal key to success.

With extra talking, the young Wildcats are a team that flies around the floor, sets up their big hitters for easy kills and closes down the opponent defensively. by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview senior Katrina Dubsky flies high above the net for a kill against Oregon City.

For the first two games of Westview’s season opener against Oregon City, the Wildcats interacted well and pulled out a pair of 25-22, 26-24 wins.

However, when the chatter weakened midway through the third game, so did Westview.

The Pioneers piloted the momentum over the next two games 25-23, 25-18 and used a 6-0 run in the deciding fifth game to pull off a 15-13 win and complete an unanticipated three-game comeback on Thursday.

The defeat was less shocking considering Westview only has three seniors and is working in a talented, but green group of talented juniors and sophomores. Only two of the Wildcats who saw playing time against the Pioneers played on varsity last year. Losing three straight games, however, did bring to light what the untried Wildcats have to do to contend.

“Volleyball is always talking,” said setter Jodeci Afo-Tuia. “Making sure what everybody’s job is, always knowing where the ball is and what you’re going to do next. We have to shake off the mistakes that we make. We have to make sure we get the ball back and win the next contact.”

Through two games, Westview looked invincible. Katrina Dubsky, Marissa Kolb, Addie Burdett Hannah and Abbey Lautenbach all assaulted the Pioneer defense with pell-mell spikes at the net. Karsyn Weiss and Afo-Tuia steered the middle of the offense and ensured the Wildcats’ long-ball hitters had cushy attempts to pummel high above the TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westviews Marissa Kolb goes up for a block in the second set of the Wildcats loss to Oregon City.

Defensively, the Wildcats checked their individual assignments and corked off Oregon City’s open areas for scoring attempts.

“If we can play like we did those first two games, I think we’ll be really good,” said Kolb. “We’re a really young team. It’s basically all juniors, sophomores and freshmen. We play well together. We do get down on ourselves easily, but at the same time, we cheer each other up pretty well. I think this is a team that works as a family.”

Dubsky said the Wildcats played with consistent energy in the first two and a half games, but it started to wane as their legs grew heavy and the early game adrenaline wore off.

“We thought ‘Oh we won the first two, we can win the third one easily’,” said Dubsky. “And, they just came back at us. We shut down, and they took that advantage over us.”

“We just got too quiet,” added Kolb. “Everybody shut down. We started to slow down and go through the motions. We didn’t do what we came here to do.”

Afo-Tuia said the continual dialogue and passion on the court was considerable in the first two games. But, Westview put everything into that pair of victories and simply tipped out of energy midway through the third TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westviews Jodeci Afo-Tuia and Abby Lautenbach go up together for a double-team block versus Oregon City.

“We started letting (Oregon City) and how they got more loud than us, get to us,” said Afo-Tuia. “We broke down and got together too late. We tried to fix it too late.”

Once Oregon City got in a groove, it was like trying to stop a 1,000-pound stone from tumbling down a mountain. The Pioneers’ defense at the net and around the court powered the three-set comeback as the Wildcats’ communication wore down.

“We did a lot of great things, we just weren’t able to string those things together, consistently,” said head coach Justin Denham. “I thought we ran the middle really well, better than I expected. Our passing was good, but our serving hurt us. That’s something we have to work on.”

The lessons to be learned weren’t technical, Denham said, but more of an awakening for what has to take place at the 6A level.

“This is what it’s like to be in ‘the show’,” said Denham. “This is what it’s like to play varsity, and welcome to the game. If they take that away and save something from that then it was a good experience.”

Westview only has three seniors on the roster, including Dubsky who played varsity last year as a junior.

The speed of the game and the stamina it takes to win three 25-point games is something Dubsky said took the young Wildcats by surprise in the first game of the season. Yet, the captain noted Westview has all kinds of promise and the resolve to buck up during the preseason.

“I think a lot of them were shocked to see how fast and how long playing three out five can be,” said Dubsky.

“It’s a long night, and it’s the first night, so once we keep playing, by the end of the season I think we’ll do really strong. As a young team, we have to work hard and progress each time.”

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