By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– On the court for the PacWest League Playoff Tournament between Salem Academy and Blanchet Catholic, there was any combination of 10 PacWest Honorees playing and a 11th that wasn’t even playing between the two heated rivals Tuesday night.
One of the 11, was three-time PacWest Player of the Year in Sydney Brown. The senior received the honor for the third-time post-game and was humble in receiving the award for the third time.
“I mean I don’t get the glory, I give the glory to my teachers and my coaches who taught me everything and my teammates pushing me in practice everyday and the Glory to God because I couldn’t push this body on my own,” laughed and smile Brown.
The Lady Crusaders took the first set of the match over their rival, looking to avoid losing to the Lady Cavaliers yet again in the League Playoff Championship game like they did last season.
Blanchet though, answered back by taking the next two sets and were looking to finish off Salem Academy in four sets.
But, the Crusaders had other plans.
Playing without Kara Standridge, Salem Academy pushed back against the Cavs to force a fifth-set thanks to a 26-24 set four victory.
“We just tried to stay encouraging and stay up and work together as a team and every single point just do our very best and try not to make any errors, just have fun out there,” said Halle Brown.
As the teams traded sides for the fifth-set, they had their respective crowds facing them, chanting for their squad to pull out the victory in 15 instead of overtime like how the previous set ended.
It was loud, it was crazy, it was like a South Salem-Sprague match as both teams took to the court for one last set.
Blanchet Catholic jumps out to a 6-2 lead, they were swept in the regular season and were not going to see the Lady Crusaders keep another trophy at their place and were ready for their rally when Salem Academy tied it at 6 following Baker’s kill causing them to call time.
“I knew we weren’t stressed out, we came in knowing that we could do it,” said Cavs First-team PacWest Ally Jones. “When your focused on being able to pass, set, hit and get the kill and then that’s what happens and that’s what happened for us.”
It seemed as if that timeout did help in settling down the Lady Cavaliers because they jumped back out to a sizable lead that they did not relinquish in their 15-10 fifth set win over the fourth-ranked Crusaders in time for Burns coming to town on Saturday.
“It’s felt amazing, we worked all season to play together for this game and we believed in ourselves whether or not anyone else did. We just knew that coming in, we were mentally and physically prepared to just bring it,” said Hailey Otsby, a second-team PacWest player for Blanchet this year. “It’ll be huge for us, we knew we could beat them and so we’ll just keep building from here and just bring it to the next game.”
Salem Academy, who’s playing host to Harrisburg Saturday down the street from Blanchet, they remember how last year felt as they relive the same result again in 2017; but, they have another opportunity as they did in 2016 to use the loss as a fuel for good to get them over the hump to the Elite 8 for the first-time since 2014.
Knowing that the little fixable errors they made Tuesday night are that: Fixable, it’s just a matter of turning this loss bitterness into success moving into bracket play.
“It’ll just momentum for us to keep pushing, working hard in practice,” “It shows that we’re not the best team in the State and we just need to keep fighting and working hard.”
Now times are yet to be determined, but will soon be up on the OSAA website. And, could it be possible that these two teams could meet up again in bracket play in Forest Grove? There’s a possibility for Round 4 in either consolation or championship brackets semi-final round for another match-up.
But for now, it’s onto the first round.
LEAGUE HONORS (FOR BLANCHET AND SALEM ACADEMY)
BLANCHET CATHOLIC: HONORABLE MENTION- Shelby Halfman. Caroline Ditzler. 2ND TEAM- Hailey Otsby. 1ST TEAM- Ally Jones. Kalea Salang.
SALEM ACADEMY- HONORABLE MENTION-Emma Gould. 2ND TEAM- Kara Standridge. Lindsay Larsen, Abby Mayta. FIRST TEAM- Paige Boles PLAYER OF THE YEAR-Sydney Brown.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald