By Jeremy McDonald
GERVAIS, Ore.—The pressure was on both Gervais and Sheridan as the twilight of the season has arrived.
The Lady Spartans were trying to stay ahead of Santiam, who won over Western Christian in straight sets in Mill City Monday, while the Lady Cats were trying to work their way into the League Playoffs.
Sheridan took the match in three, but it was that third match that proved to be the nail-bitter with Gervais trying to extend the match beyond the third match.
The Lady Cats built some momentum during the second set entering the third set where Gervais burst out to a strong start.
Behind Lilly Welburn’s kill, Erika Rambeau’s Service Ace and a block by Rysi Koos sparked the Lady Cats to an 8-1 lead early in the set.
“I think we finally got it into our heads that the only way that we were going to win is if we have that energy,” said Koos as the mindset changed for Gervais changed in that third set. “We kept it up for a while there and we just got to keep improving on our game.”26
Sheridan, who’s lone point came from a Iana Duarte kill, got the ball back when Bella Vasquez went for a block but hit the net in the process. After that McKenzie Wofford had a block, Eryn Byers’ with a kill and Duarte again this time with an Ace plus a blocking miscue by Gervais brought the Spartan girls back to within two at 8-6.
Gervais maintained a two-point lead, but eventually Sheridan did surpass the Lady Cats when Wofford gave the Spartans their first lead of the set at 11-10.
“We did really good, I just think fighting for it and seeing it and seeing what we want to do. Like really wanting to go to State and I think that really drove us and gave us that drive to win,” said Sheridan’s Byers. “I think it’s just getting into that mindset of like, calming ourselves down and really fighting for it and what we really wanted. Establishing goals that we want to set and reaching those goals I think really is helping us.”
Gervais didn’t back down, cutting the 13-10 lead to 13-12 and found themselves down 21-20 on a push when the Spartans had to burn a timeout to recollect their thoughts.
“The third set was really good, we stopped yelling at each other so much, we were working as a team,” said Gervais’ Koos. “We have two more games, they’re home games…home court advantage if we can just use that and trust each other and work together like that third set, I think that will do it for us.”
A combo-block went haywire handed Sheridan a 22-20 lead as they pulled away for the 25-20 win to stay ahead of the Lady Wolverines for third-place in the conference. The Lady Cats host Colton next Monday before hosting Chemawa for Senior Night on October 17.
As for the Spartans, as they now have their final two games at home versus the Lady Braves and Santiam to close out the season, the change-up they did in their line-up proved beneficial in Monday’s win with their focus on these next two games.
“I think we did pretty good since we switched it up, usually I’m the setter but Izika set tonight and I played outside,” starts Byers. “And even with that I thought we did good. I’m proud of us.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald