By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– In a unique season, South Salem Volleyball had found a way to make the most of it.
Twelve games, Twelve wins, one perfect season.
Yes, playoffs and contending for a State Championship would have been ideal in normal circumstances, but a 12-0 record was a great stepping stone towards the possibility of that hopefully coming this Fall.
“It was really good; it was really unexpected and it really sucks that we don’t have playoffs. We’re just a great team and really high-energy, everyone’s really positive,” said Lalia Leaks, who had 36 assist in the win. “We only have three seniors this year so that means we just have to play hard. Coming out aggressively and next year we should be pretty solid too.
“It was fun playing West Albany this season, but it was fun playing another team that was on another level.”
When the Saxons and Bulldogs met Friday, both squads were undefeated with South Salem handing West Albany their first defeat of the season in five-sets. It was one of two matches that the Saxons had dropped a set this season, South Salem had dropped a set to Silverton on the road on March 16. Three sets they’ve lost all season while winning 36 sets.
Both South Salem and the Bulldogs were supposed to play each other again Monday, but a Covid-exposure situation involving West Albany had canceled the game entering Tuesday’s season finale with Sprague.
Similar to the Saxons and West Salem, the Olympians have a handful of seniors with Alexis Cantu and Lily Albrecht, and contested with South Salem in the first and third sets of the Saxons 25-21, 25-10 25-21 victory.
Ending the match strongly with a slight 8-5 advantage after going down 20-13 during the set. Sprague finishes the season on the road at North Eugene Wednesday night.
“It’s just getting that energy in. Coming together as a team, they’re a young team so they are figuring it out and learning to trust each other,” said Sprague Head Coach Anne Olson. “I think we’ve developed a lot this season. We’ve improved a lot this season and I’m excited to see how they play tomorrow night against North Eugene and then on from here.
“We only lose two volleyball players. This is a really good team and I’m really excited to see where we go from here.”
They Olys are currently 7-6 on the year entering their final game of the year. Looking to build some more momentum for the Fall behind Abby Sorenson and company.
South Salem will lose Sarah Kivett, Valerie Porter and Kellyn Brown, who were playing in their final home game of their prep careers Tuesday night. So sending them off with a memorable season like this was awesome, pointed Brooksie Isham as her and the Saxon returners adjust to the bulls-eye on their backs for next season.
“It was super special, especially for our Seniors who put in a ton of work, it was a big win,” Isham, who contributed eight kills. “I think we can do it again. If we just keep where we are with the energy that we have and the communication that we all have, I think we can keep it up.”
“We just can’t come out cocky, we have to come out confident and be ready for other teams to target us and we can’t come out scared,” adds Leaks. “We just got to be ready for next year.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald