By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Gervais had enter bracket play of the Western Christian Tournament along Highway 221 Saturday afternoon with some momentum.
Just losing one set, splitting with Jefferson, during pool play entering their bracket opener versus the host-Pioneers, there was a sense that the Cougars could make it three-for-three against their Tri-River Conference opposition this season having defeated Western Christian at the Gaston Tournament and in league play earlier this season.
The biggest component for the Cougars in this tournament to their last in the Crusader Classic was their focus as they entered bracket play, but the Pios focused on one of their weakeness’ that paid off for Western Christian in their 25-19, 24-26, 15-11 win:
It helped them pull away in the first set and set the pace in the second set when Sydney Fahndrich hit on three service aces that helped turned a 16-13 lead into a 20-13 lead.
“We work on services a lot in practices and stuff, so it was awesome to win that game especially against Gervais. Serving is definitely one of our low points, so it was super exciting to see that we were pretty spot on with our serving,” said Fahndrich.
Fahndrich made an error that gave the ball back to Gervais, Celi Vasquez added to the run. Vasquez’ sister Bella Vasquez had back-to-back aces to bring the game within four before Josie Schultz joined the run to get Gervais to within 22-18 before the run ended.
“I felt like we did really good during that second set and in the third set I felt like we feel asleep, we had good moments but,” said Schultz of the run during the second set entering the third.
The Cougars completed the comeback after being down 20-13 in the second set with a Lily Welburn kill that pushed the match to a decisive third set to start the afternoon session.
But Gervais struggled to carry over their morning success’ over to the afternoon sessions of games Saturday afternoon as they return to league play Monday evening with Sheridan coming to Gervais.
The Cougars biggest thing was their energy as they turn their focus to the Spartans Monday evening.
“Keep our energy up. In the beginning it was really good, but at the end of the set we didn’t have it,” said Schultz. “I feel like we can take the good things and moving on and take the bad things and practice it so we can do it better the next time.”
For Western Christian, who went on to drop a tough three-set match to Gaston later on Saturday 23-25, 25-22, 7-15, the revenge on Gervais was nice as they travel to Delphian Monday before host Culver Wednesday evening.
“It was like some spark just went off and we were all on the same page of what we needed to do to get to that point,” said Fahndrich of the Pios third set rebound win against the Cougs.
The two teams meet again October 16 at Santiam High School.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald