By Jeremy McDonald
BROOKS, Ore.– The year away from the sports scene has been tough for Western Christian’s Makennan Hopper.
After tearing her ACL in a summer league game at Toledo that had sidelined the then-Junior from playing Volleyball and basketball, the now-Senior setter is back on the court during the Pioneers short six-week season with Western. Playing in her second and third games of the season Saturday in a unique staggered doubleheader with 1A’s Willamette Valley Christian.
“Oh it’s so amazing. Last year was so boring and long, it was frustrating and just being able to play. It was so cool, it doesn’t hurt at all so it’s an amazing feeling,” said Hopper.
The Pioneers were coming off a sweep of Gervais from Friday night while the Warriors of the Casco League were coming off a gritty performance against 1A power St. Paul Thursday.
Willamette Valley had their chances during the Western Christian 25-17, 25-16, 25-22 sweep on the road. Lally Hunter showcased her strength, as did Ella Peerenboom and the rest of the Warrior squad, but they couldn’t overcome the play by the Pios that was led by Sydney Fahndrich to extend the match.
The fight and grit were in full-effect in the third set of the match, rallying back from a 5-1 deficit to lead 10-6 at one point in the third game of the match. Getting to within one of Western Christian late in the set, 23-22. Looking to each other and feeding off of each other’s energy and momentum in the set.
“I think it really comes from our team. We look to each other for inspiration and if you look up and see the smiles and bright eyes of everyone, it really helps trying to get your own energy up and get your head back into the game,” said Hunter. “With St. Paul, we didn’t really know what to expect. We came in like ‘let’s try our best and see what we can do’.
“For this game, we tried to come in with the same mentality and we weren’t as prepared for their tips and their serves. Our receiving was off a little bit, we know what to work on for this afternoon. We know what to do now and now we have to adjust and get it done.”
Western Christian stayed with it throughout the rallies presented by Willamette Valley Christian to complete the sweep. A big step forward for the squad said Hopper.
“It was huge. We’re that kind of team that shuts down sometimes, but Madi Nicoli and a bunch of people kept talking and that got us through the rally and got us to the spots we needed to get to and win those longer rallies,” Hopper said.
The Warriors would hand the Pios their first set loss of the season in the third set of their afternoon match, Willamette Valley Christian’s first set won this season as well, but Western Christian would win the match 25-13, 25-20, 20-25, 25-11 to improve to 3-0 on the season. The Warriors fall to 0-3 on the season.
Western Christian will be at Santiam Monday night at 6pm. The Warriors are at Perrydale Tuesday evening at 6pm.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald