>Still in hunt for league title
The Madras volleyball team kept pace in the race for the Tri-Valley Conference championship with a win Wednesday, and nearly brought home their second consecutive tournament title Saturday in Seaside.
   On the coast at Seaside High School, the White Buffaloes went 5-1 in sets through pool play, then bounced Stayton (25-23, 25-11) and LaGrande (22-25, 25-10, 15-12) out of bracket play before falling to Class 4A RPI No. 2 Banks in straight sets, 25-18, 25-12.
   The Buffs split sets with Banks in pool play, but head coach Jamie Smith said that the Buffs were just running on empty by the time the title match came around.
   "We just ran out of gas," he said. "There were a lot of good teams there, and we're definitely happy with the result, though."
   Smith said of the 16 teams, five of them are in the Class 4A RPI top 10, which is the kind of competition Smith wants his crew playing if they are going to make a playoff run in the next couple weeks.
   Madras libero Lauren Simmons surpassed 1,000 career digs during the tournament, a milestone Smith and the rest of the team were hoping she would reach at home against Gladstone. Since Gladstone didn't exact pepper any shots at the Buffs' defense, the record had to wait until Seaside.
   "She has been playing at a high level for a long time," Smith said of his all-conference libero. "She knew sometime this year she could break it, and I reminded her a little bit as it got close."
   Smith said he started "The 1,000 Club" for every player that recorded 1,000 of any statistic, like kills, for example. There are two people part of that club, and both of them have the same last name.
   Lauren's older sister, Rachel Simmons, had 1,000 career assists during her high school career, making "The 1,000 Club" exclusive to one family.
   "It's pretty neat for both of them," he said. "It's definitely a big accomplishment."
   Other top performers for the Buffs during the Seaside Tournament were Elle Renault and Shelby Mauritson.
   Both players seemed to do it all. Renault finished the tournament with 85 assists, 23 kills and 49 digs while Mauritson recorded 52 kills, 34 assists and 35 digs.
   "They both had great tournaments," Smith said. "When one was off a little bit, the other one was on and made up for it."
   Simmons surpassed the 1,000 career digs mark with 59 while Alexis Urbach had 36 kills and seven blocks.
   Natalie Martin served 12 aces to lead the Buffs at the service line.
   Against Gladstone on Wednesday in Madras, Smith said his team was "a little lackadaisical," but he was able to rotate some reserve players into the match and still pick up the league win.
   The win puts the Buffs in a first-place tie with Estacada atop the TVC with 6-1 records.
   Results from Tuesday's match with North Marion were not available by the Pioneer's press deadline. Madras will host La Salle at 6 p.m. Thursday, during which they will celebrate the team's seniors on Senior Night.
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