By Jeremy McDonald
DALLAS, Ore.—Nearly a year ago Dallas found themselves breaking into the Elite 8 for the first time in a long time when they swept a highly competitive match from Marist Catholic on the road.
Fast forward to another year and they find themselves in the same situation as the year before, one game from the Elite 8 and battling for a State Title. This time at home, Jake From State Farm in the student section and a more challenging opponent in Churchill in front of them in their four-set win Saturday night.
It was a taxing game as the Dragons built a two games to none lead before the Lancers stormed back and forced a fourth set in hopes to win it in five. But Dallas grinded through it, they depended not just on their own contributions for the team, but trusted the girl next to them on the court to have their back as well.
“We just have to depend on each other and just trust everyone. I mean Emma Classen, she did a good job sticking through it and I know she was tired but she just grinded through it, she was just awesome,” said Taylor Willamson.
Classen made sure that the sets were right for Maggie Blair, Haliey Van Well and her teammates to ensure they got the shots they wanted throughout the game with the Dragons started off the fourth set with a 7-3 lead.
Churchill bounced back like they did in the previous set, cutting it to 10-9 before Van Well scored back-to-back points to help give breathing room for Dallas with the lead peaking at 16-10 mid-set. The Lancers once more got the game to within reach down 18-16 before the Dragons pushed the lead out to 23-17 with the end near.
“At point 20 I was like, ‘this is it. We got five points to go’ and then every point we got closer to it I was like ‘This is it, one more ball and we will win and go to the State Tournament’ it was awesome,” said Van Well.
But the last two points, the final point could be Volleyball’s equivalent to the longest yard in football. Anything could happen and something did happen.
With the end in reach, Churchill wasn’t about ready to call it a season as they made one last rally and got to within one point of Dallas. But the issue was, the Dragons were one point away from ending the game.
They were fatigued, they were tired, they were not ready to go to five but would probably find enough juice to compete hard though.
“It was physically tiring, my voice is like almost gone,” laughed Van Well as it looked like points 20-24 were the game-winning points. “It was like last year’s at Marist, it was so much fun and so much energy too.”
The Student Section in their khakis and red polos said earlier in the set, ‘It’s all mental’. It surely as the ball went back into play.
“It felt so good, I knew from the pass that it was the one,” Maya Davison described the play on the court from her angle. “I was just, ‘oh good pass, good set’ and we all know when it goes to Hailey it’s going to be good. So when I saw the ball go up, I was like ‘this is the one’ and I knew it for sure and I was like ‘oh yeah’. I was so excited even before it went.”
The ball came Van Well’s way as the junior made sure that this was the end to the point, the exclamation point to the home-crowd season as the six Dragon girls on the court erupted when the ball landed in the back-row ending the match.
And through the excitement starts the real work, bringing home a trophy. Dallas lost back-to-back games last postseason at the Final Site to end their season, but with some experience coming back from that team plus a few days to prepare for Wilsonville, this year could be different.
“Keep going hard like we did tonight, no room to let it go. It needs to be 100-percent in practice, 100-percent in games,” said Davison. “All the time, everyday. Working on the little things is going to be key.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald