By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Willamina changed up their rotation Saturday afternoon. Going with more of an offensive attack Saturday afternoon at Western Christian in their 25-15, 25-13, 20-25, 25-22 victory over the Pioneers.
Their offense pulled away from Western Christian in the opening two sets of the match, turning close sets in the early going into sound victories by set-end.
“At first we knew we had to adjust but we knew what we had to do. Play our game and have fun and win,” said the Bulldogs Grace France. “It was ‘alright we have to adjust really fast’ and that’s what we did. This is definitely an offensive game and that’s what we’re going for.”
The Pios, who had earlier Saturday defeated Culver in five sets, had slowly came around by the third set of the match. Staving off the sweep thanks to an 8-0 start to the set and withstanding the late-set rally poised by Willamina for their fourth set win of the day.
“Digging deep and trying to get our energy back, we were so close to pulling off that fourth (set win),” Western Christian’s Sarah Hess said.
The Pioneers built a 18-13 lead in the fourth set. Momentum was riding high as they looked like they were going to have another grueling five-set match. Western Christian’s game with Willamina was their fifth-game of the week, having played Santiam, Blanchet Catholic and 2A Power Kennedy prior to Saturday’s doubleheader to close out the week.
But the Bulldogs had one more rally in them, having played four games themselves with a two-day with Amity and Dayton, along with individual games with Warrenton before Saturday’s game on the road.
“We always have a problem getting into our heads and stuff. So, we’re like ‘alright, we’re not going to repeat from last year and let’s get after it’,” France said. “It’s really big because we were on a losing streak and this had set it off. We need to get back into it, so this win is something that’s going to change it all.”
They would eventually even the score and took the lead from their host, hanging on themselves to complete the four-set victory with traveling to Clatskanie Tuesday night.
The Pios, coming off their 3-2 week sitting 6-2 on the year, will have some time to recover before their next big test: Salem Academy. And they’ll take full-advantage of the time to make sure they are ready for that game with the Crusaders.
“Rest. I think we’re going to need some sleep. Work on our serves, I think our serves killed us in the Kennedy game and this game. Working on our errors, covering each other. Finding energy again,” Hess said. “We can learn that we can start off strong and stay ahead. Coach has a saying ‘first to five, first to ten’, not letting teams’ come back.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald