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The Lions begin defense of their 2017 TRL title by sweeping past Lakeridge on Tuesday

TIDINGS PHOTO: MILES VANCE - West Linn senior Erika Isaacson celebrates a point during her team's 25-9, 25-13, 25-10 sweep at Lakeridge on Tuesday night.The West Linn volleyball team knows where it's been and it knows where it wants to go.

Lakeridge, meanwhile, is still setting its course for 2018.

The Lions showed their certainty on Tuesday in their Three Rivers League opener at Lakeridge High School, sweeping past the Pacers 25-9, 25-13 and 25-10.

"That was a really way fun to start it off," said West Linn senior libero Ellie Snook, the reigning TRL Player of the Year. "We were super excited coming into the game and just excited to start our season off great."

The resounding nature of their win helped cement the Lions' belief in the good things they hope lie ahead.

"I feel confident in our ability going forward. This really makes us feel good about it," said West Linn senior setter Hannah Hashbarger. "It was about us. We made it about us."

With the win, the Lions improved to 1-0 in the Three Rivers League and 1-0 overall, while the Pacers fell to 0-1 in TRL play and 1-2 overall following a season-opening win over McMinnville and a 2-0 loss to Corvallis.

While Tuesday's match didn't go as well as the Pacers would have liked, they understood the benefit of playing a quality team and what can be learned from it.

"I really observed that we needed to stick together and make eye contact," said Lakeridge junior libero Maicy Wear. "If someone makes a mistake, you really have to stay with them and let them know that you've got them and they can do it."

"I think we learned we just need to stick together even when the game isn't going quite as well as we thought it would go and just stay positive," added Lakeridge junior setter Avery Ensing.

The Lions started Tuesday's first set on an absolute roll, racing out to a 13-1 lead after two rotations, getting an early kill from senior outside hitter Kayla Moss, then four Moss aces in a nine-point run that extended the West Linn lead to 12 points.

The Lions, who benefitted from three missed Lakeridge serves in the set and seven aces of their own, never led by less than 11 points the rest of the way and ended it with a Snook ace.

While the second set ended with a 12-point West Linn victory, it was tougher than that and closer than that most of the way. The Pacers took their first lead of the night when junior middle blocker Lauren Monahan notched a kill from the left side and sophomore teammate Rebecca Skirvin followed with an ace to make it 2-1.

The Lions pulled in front behind a pair of kills from junior outside hitter Lauren Knutson during a four-point run served by Moss to make it 5-2, but the Pacers hung with West Linn for a while longer.

The Lions and Pacers split the next 10 points, with Lakeridge still within 10-7 following an Ensing ace and a West Linn hitting error.

"I think we were just relaxed in our heads and we were more focused on defense and we just put away a few more balls then we did at the start of the game," Ensing said.

But the Lions closed the game impressively, outscoring the Pacers 15-6 the rest of the way to win 25-13. Along the way, Moss and sophomore outside hitter Audra Wilmes had two kills each while sophomore Makayla Long added one, and Ellie Snook and freshman Lily Snook each added aces.

"They came out stronger with their offense (in the second set), but I think we picked it up," Ellie Snook said. "That's what pushed us over the top."

West Linn started fast again in the third set, pushing ahead 8-2 on a kill from the right side by junior Claire Matthiessen, but saw Lakeridge fight back within 11-7 on a Lion hitting error.

West Linn wasn't about to be deterred, however, ending the match on a 14-3 run that included two aces from sophomore Kate Griffin and a kill and an ace from Long.

The victory was the first in what the Lions hope is a long run of victories that will lead to another Class 6A state tournament berth.

"We have six seniors and we're all like 'We're going.' It's not an option," Hashbarger said. "As long as we get it done, that's all that matters.

"We want to win league again — we don't want to share it. We want to be the only winners and we definitely want to get to the state tournament and be successful over there."

On their side of the net, the Pacers said they'd learned a lot from their TRL opener.

"Mindset is a really big thing and I think we got out of our (heads) a little bit in the second game and that really helped us," Wear said. "I definitely think we need to work on a few things, but I think (we were) really good in bringing us together in those hard games. That will really help this in further matches."

In upcoming matches, Lakeridge plays at Tualatin at 6:30 p.m. Thursday and hosts St. Mary's at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, while West Linn hosts Tigard at 6:30 p.m. Thursday and plays at Oregon City at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Contact Sports Editor Miles Vance at 503-330-0127 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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