By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Entering the fifth set of their 25-21, 25-23, 20-25, 20-25, 15-7 win over Mountain View, South Salem knew what was at stake.
Sitting 33rd in the State, a loss could all but end their season. But a win on the otherwise could push their ranking in the Top 32 to qualify them for the postseason.
“It came a lot with teamwork and we wanted it and this was our chance to really make it to playoffs. We knew that this was our final push, we had a tough loss to McNary on Tuesday. We knew this was our time, everyone on this team stepped it up,” said Gabby Baker, who had 17 kills in the win.
“I don’t think anyone was playing their worse game, everyone was playing their best game and I think that what helped us pulled off a win against a team we lost too earlier this season.”
With how talented this team is with that nice mixture of Seniors like Baker, Quinlan Clarkson to go with Lalia Leaks and Tiani Gebauer-Tinitali, Consistency has been their kryptonite this season. And it had emerged again Thursday night against the Cougars.
Their two set-lead was shorted lived as the hard-hitting Jasmine Martin helped lead Mountain View back into contention for a win over the next two sets.
Sitting at 29, the Cougs too didn’t want to leave it up to chance to those around them as they clawed for playoff positioning.
Leaks, a sophomore who finished with 12 kills, had one of her two aces in the game to help give the Saxons a brief 5-4 lead over Mountain View before going down 6-5 two plays later. Freshman Brooksie Isham, who swung up to add another body to the Varsity roster with Victoria Stafford coming off a wrist injury, had one of her four blocks to tie it up at six as Clarkson took over serving duties.
“It was just pure momentum, we just wanted this so bad,” said Clarkson. “We were all just working together for us at the end, it was so awesome. It was very intense.”
Clarkson had two aces in a 6-0 rally to put the Saxons to within three points of winning the match at 12-6. The Cougars had finally halted the South Salem run with their final point of the match before the Saxons put an exclamation point to the season and their Senior Night in five sets.
“It was consistent play all-around, everyone was going for everything and I think that was our most consistent game we’ve played,” said Baker. “People were hitting the ball down. We didn’t have the greatest slam down balls, but people were putting them on the court and that’s what mattered.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald