By Jeremy McDonald
PORTLAND, Ore.– The second set against the Oregon Episcopal School probably best describes Blanchet Catholic’s volleyball team early in this season:
With two girls on the bench, down 20-14, the Cavaliers began to march back into the game. Cutting the lead to 21-17 not too long after.
Abby Weber’s kill got it to 21-18. Kelsey Tobias to 23-21 as they eventually pulled even. Holding a brief 26-25 lead that forced the Aardvarks to use a timeout.
“After the first set, the first set got us pretty bad, we talked a lot about picking each other up as a team and trying to stay positive because we get into our heads a lot. So after that set one loss, we came together and were like ‘we got it, let’s push forward’ and that helped us a lot in the second and third sets,” Weber said. “I think that helped us a lot by pushing forward and being positive.”
OES settled in however, holding off Blanchet 28-26 in their 25-18, 28-26, 21-25, 25-11 victory Saturday night.
Focus they called out during the third set while leading 9-4 on the Varks. There were valleys to go with the hilltops they had against both Dayton and Oregon Episcopal on Saturday as they kicked off their season.
They rose to the challenge of changing lineups as they were missing players not being there or injured. Weber and Natalie Hopkin split time setting with Weber spending some time as an outside hitter, just focusing on the here-and-now, building a 18-10 lead and holding off OES for the 25-21 set victory to extend the match.
“We didn’t get any rotation calls,” joked Hopkin of the hodgepodge of lineups Saturday. “I think you just gotta forget about the score…you just play and we just played. I was not thinking about the score, I’m just going to play and I think that’s what won us that (third) set. I think that mentality can help a lot.”
The set win handed OES their first set loss of the year after the Varks won their first eight entering the set. Fatigue began to sink in during their ninth-set of the day however, going down 10-3 to start the fourth set.
Blanchet pulled back to within four, 14-10, but the long day had worn on the squad as they couldn’t make the push for a second-straight fifth-set match on Opening Day for them.
The mentality of flushing out the previous set to focus on the here-and-now had helped them in that third set, and with Harrisburg Tuesday where they’ll face Catlin Gabel and the Eagles. Healing up along the way to be fresh and ready to go by first serve at 6pm.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald