By Jeremy McDonald
HILLSBORO, Ore.– Sprague made some program history this weekend by winning their first State Final Site Tournament game when they battled Central Catholic to five sets, with each set outside of the fourth set going into extra points.
They then followed that up with their second straight sweep over Summit on the 6A State Semi-Finals to advance to the 6A State Championship game versus Jesuit, building momentum and carrying it over with each set and each win. Working as one and working as a team to get to Saturday night’s Final Title Bout.
“It’s amazing, last year we got knocked out first round and we lost the second, coming back this year and being Second Place and getting to play that Championship Game is amazing,” said Emily West, who was Second Team All-State.
As they warmed up and were introduced in front of a screaming home crowd that made the trip from Salem, Morgan Doll added that they wanted to prove Salem can compete with the Portland schools, having battled one already entering Saturday Night’s match
“A lot of times, Portland teams are normally looked at as the ones who get recognized for being the Best of the Best of Oregon and not just to show that Sprague was just competitive but that Salem can compete,” said Doll, who got first-team All-State with Bridgett Smith.
That match against the Crusaders was certainly wasn’t going to be easy, Jesuit has only dropped one set to an Oregon team all year and that was to Central Catholic on September 8.
On top of that, they were 25-0 against Oregon competition with the Crusaders four losses coming at the Nike Tournament of Champions over the September 21-22 weekend.
As the match started, there were no showing of nerves really for the Olympians. Sprague went back-and-forth with the Jesuit before the Crusaders built a small lead. Sprague held their own down 16-13 at one point in the set by mid-set, but the Jesuit pulled away and carried that momentum into a set two win.
Down their final set of the High School season perhaps, with their Student Section trading chants with the enemy and still holding out hope for a possible Fourth set and put some more pressure on the Crusaders by extending the match.
“For a lot of our Seniors, it was either we’re going out with a bang or we’re falling over. Falling over is not an option for us,” said Doll, a Senior herself. “So we decided to give it our all and we competed. We made Jesuit nervous and that’s all we could ask for.”
They went for it. Facing a steep climb in trying to get back into this game against one of the Nations best in the sport.
But the Olys went for it. The score was tied at six and they were knocking on the door down 11-10 and 13-12. Smith knocked down a point as the Junior finished with 13 kills and nine digs as the game was at 14-13 after Smith’s play.
Jesuit began to pull away, pushing their lead to 20-16 as some of the Crusaders held up five as the teams came out of a Sprague timeout. Five points to win, but don’t tell the Olympians.
What happened next was something that forced Jesuit to something unorthodox all game long:
Call a timeout.
That happened when Sprague stormed back and tied the game at 20 and as if they looked to be done down 24-22, those darn Olys came back around as they tied it back up at 24.
“We just wanted to fight for it, we wanted to get as far as we could and push them as far as we could and we just kept fighting. We never give up,” said West, who had a 19 assist in the game.
The game was tied at 25 as both crowds were about to erupt, it was deafening in the Liberty High School gym as the Crusaders took a one-point lead.
Sprague couldn’t respond as Jesuit capped the sweep with a 27-25 win in the 25-13,25-11, 27-25 game.
As they graduate seven seniors, a standard has been set for future classes to live up too as Sprague Volleyball enters the off season.
“It’s really important because last year we didn’t win a single game. This year, to make it to the Finals which is so special and I think this year Sprague has been going through a lot and I told my team before we took the court:
“‘Not only is this our team, this is for Sprague.”