Central Catholic finishes week with sweeps over eastside rivals Barlow, Gresham

by: THE OUTLOOK: DAVID BALL - Central Catholic setter Camille Foster puts a ball in play up front during the Rams' three-game sweep over Gresham on Thursday night. Central Catholic’s Rick Lorenz has a problem any volleyball coach in the state would envy. He’s having trouble getting his full team together for practice because the early season has been filled with campus visits as his players decide where their future will take them.

Kailee Johnson, a 6-foot-3 middle and basketball star, is making the Pac-12 tour, spending last week at USC and Stanford. Immediately after Thursday’s sweep over rival Gresham, she was off on a two-hour drive to Eugene to visit the Ducks.

“We’ve been sloppy with our attack, and we can’t improve until that solidifies,” Lorenz said. “But right now we have players securing their future, girls with a chance to choose any school they want. We’ll be patient and live with it until October.”

That’s when the recruiting cycle takes a break, and Lorenz will have his full allotment in the gym each day. Central’s other big front-line player, Raina Hembry, has already committed to the University of Tennessee.

“When one of them is there and the other isn’t, there’s a tendency to feel pressure to perform, but I keep telling them we have enough people to lighten the load,” Lorenz said.

While the efficiency of the attack may not be up to the high standard set by a program chasing its fourth straight big-school title, the Rams continue to cruise through the season — 10-1 overall and 5-0 as the treacherous Mount Hood Conference schedule nears its halfway point.

“We have the athleticism to compete with anybody,” Lorenz said. “Right now, we’re just waiting for our full contingent to come together, and that’s coming shortly.”

The Rams' dominance was on full display this week with a pair of three-game sweeps over traditional MHC powers Barlow and Gresham.

The Gophers had little chance on Thursday night, falling 25-14, 25-11, 25-18, putting up resistance only in the third set when they got within a point during the middle stages of the game.

But the Rams never let them pull even.

Leading 12-11, Central’s Whitney Turner slammed a cross-court kill through the heart of the Gresham defense. Hembry added another blast down the center to put the Rams in command 19-13, and Johnson finished the job with a pair of blocks in the middle to bring about match point.

The night ended with Gresham forced to make an off-balance return that sailed wide out of play. The Rams polished off their victory in less than an hour.

Central Catholic travels north to play in the Kent (Wash.) Classic this weekend before heading to a rowdy gym at Reynolds High next Thursday for a first look at a Raiders squad that has been an early-season surprise, sitting second in the MHC.

View a photo gallery of tonight’s match at …

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