By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Chemeketa Volleyball may just be turning the corner coming out of their third NWAC South Region Game to Rogue Community College out of Grants Pass.
Having battled through the injury bug, learning a new coaches philosophy in Paul Carter and a tough preseason slate, the Storm caught the Osprey’s with a whirlwind in the two team’s five-set game.
Rogue, who ultimately took the match 16-25, 25-23, 25-27, 25-16, 15-11, entered the match 15-1 on the season and 4-0 in Regional play Saturday afternoon in the Willamette Valley while Chemeketa were coming off a sweep of Southwestern Oregon Community College Friday night in the two-for-two weekend.
“We knew we could stay with this team, we kind of let-down there at the end but we did kind of set the tone to where we told them that we were going to compete,” said Kennedy-grad Hannah Arritola. “We knew they were going to be tough and so we kind of expected this. When we got the first set, it motivated us of ‘ok we can do this’.”
Down 6-1 in the second set, the Storm rallied and held a 23-22 lead on the Osprey’s with an opportunity to steal another set from Rouge in the match. The Osprey had only lost seven sets all season and just had dropped their eighth as they made one more push to take the set and avoid the two games to none disadvantage.
Arritola had 10 kills and 16 digs in the game, Cascade-grad Kaelyn Worst added another 12 kills and Stayton-grad Tylee Bundee had a team-high 23 digs for the Storm.
Blanchet Catholic’s Shelby Halfman tallied 27 assists as Chemeketa built a 17-11 set three lead before hanging on to regain the match lead at two games to one before Rogue forced a decisive fifth set.
Call it fatigue with the minor miscues, but the Storm kept battling and had the one-loss Osprey’s on the ropes for their second loss of the season down 14-11 before Rogue picked up the match-point.
“It was good because they ranked number-one in our league, in our region, so we knew we could compete or beat them,” said Arritola. “It’s going to motivate us next week in practice because it’s like, ‘hey we can compete. They’re pretty good’. We came off a win yesterday and we were on that high and we did really good in the beginning and we kind of taper off at the end.
“But I think it set a tone for starting league to where we can compete. We had a tough preseason, but it showed that we can compete.”
Chemeketa travels to Clark Wednesday (6pm start) before returning home to host Umpqua (2pm).
Photos By Jeremy McDonald