By Jeremy McDonald
ST. PAUL, Ore.– Willamette Valley Christian, in spurts, made 1A juggernaut St. Paul work in the Buckaroos 25-16, 25-9, 25-18 victory Tuesday evening at St. Paul High School.
The first two sets saw the Brooks-based Warriors hovering around down 8-6 in the first set and 8-5 in the second set, taking advantage of St. Paul’s slow starts to the sets. Riding the momentum as far as they could to see what they can do against one of the teams expected to be contesting for a State Title in November.
“We’ve been playing in some tournaments, seeing what the State caliber teams look like and see what we need to do to beat them now. Now we just need to go back, practice and refresh our skills, get on a clean slate and maybe next time we’ll beat them” Willamette Valley Christian’s Lally Hunter said.
Hunter points to service-receive to the culprit with it inhibiting a promising start against them as the Buckaroos pulled away in the first two sets. Annabelle Davidson used her height and power to help lead the way as St. Paul jumped out to a 23-10 first set lead and dominated in the second set.
“It was nice that we bounced back. We didn’t have the energy in the beginning, we were a little slow, a little tired. Then we got together and we talked it out, got our energy back up. I think that’s what kicked us into high-gear and helped us in that one,” Davidson said.
The third set was where things really got interesting for the two Casco League squads.
It began to look as if the Buckaroos were about to pull away once more, turning a 8-5 lead into an 11-5 advantage, but Willamette Valley Christian rallied. Scoring nine of the next 11 points the Warriors stormed back to take a 14-13 lead on St. Paul with the match looking like it may go to four.
For the Warriors (6-2, 4-2 Casco League), who only lost to Perrydale entering Tuesday, their 6-1 start was both expected and unexpected as they have nearly matched their win-total from the Spring (seven) eight games into the season. Playing with six girls Tuesday was hard, but they answered a 6-1 rally by the Bucks with a 3-0 run to find themselves down 19-18 late in the third set.
“It was kind of a surprise for all of us, but we’ve been trying to play with what we have. It’s been a long and hard (time) with the six of us, we have to give it our all in every single point. It’s going to be an interesting rest of the season,” Hunter said. “I don’t know why tonight, our serve-receive has been one of our better things and I think tonight we just got into our heads a little bit and it didn’t work well for us. But I thought our swinging and blocking was ok.”
That would be the closest that Willamette Valley Christian would get to St. Paul (15-4, 5-0) with the Buckaroos scoring the next six points to seal the three-set sweep to start their doubleheader, they would later sweep Crosshill Christian 25-6, 25-13, 25-11 for their fifth-straight win and 15th overall.
“We were really a good matched team for that and I think it just came down to finding holes for both sides. I know (Hunter) did a really great job finding ours,” Davidson said. “I know with us; we did a really good job finding their holes as well and just talking it up also really helped us out.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald