By Jeremy McDonald
MILL CITY, Ore.– The last six games for the Santiam Volleyball team have been very nice compared to coming off of the heels of a 15-game losing streak that had dated back to the 2019 Volleyball season.
Matter of fact, they enter Thursday’s Tri-River Conference match-up with Sheridan winners of four of their last six games following their five-set 19-25, 25-21, 25-16, 14-25, 15-13 victory over Western Christian Wednesday night.
“These last couple of games have been big for us. It’s been a big eye-opener, especially for us seniors after last year with the down season we had. This year it’s kind of getting our spirits back up, which makes us play all together harder because we have better team unity and we’re winning,” Grace Lindemann said. “The games that we’ve lost we know what we’re doing wrong, we fix it in practice and execute it.”
The Pioneers set the tone early in the opening set, but the Wolverines came around the second and third sets. Santiam scored 12 of the final 16 points in set two and started the third set on a 8-2 tear, holding in the neighborhood of a six-to-ten point lead over Western Christian.
If the league playoffs started today, both the Pios and the Wolverines would have been tied for that final fifth and final spot to get into it. Possibly it’ll be a league playoff match-up down the stretch when it’s all said and done.
“It was awesome. It was just great seeing us get back into it (after the first set) and keeping our attitude to pulling us out of that. We’ve struggled with that and it’s just nice to see us improving every single day and every practice. Trying to get it back together with that rhythm,” Daelynn Aerni said.
A lull in the fourth set kept the door open for Western Christian as they pulled even at six during the fifth after being down 5-1 to start the final set. Santiam called time and pulled it together to regain a four-point lead at 10-6.
The Pios tried to mount a comeback, but the Wolverines stayed the course to close out their fourth-win of the season.
The victory was nice with Santiam slowly building some momentum for their program now at 4-3 on the season and 3-2 in TRC play. But Thursday is a new opportunity to get better when Sheridan (6-3, 3-1 TRC) travels up the hill to play with the hopes to keep up with Salem Academy and Culver at the front of the league standings.
“We just have to be focused and get right into it. We can’t mess around, we just have to get our heads focused and be in it from when we get there,” Aerni said.
“We’ll go home tonight and rest. Think upon what happened tonight and what there is to clean up…our second game we tend to play a little bit better because we’re all fine-tuned after the game before on what we need to work on with each other,” Lindemann adds.
The first serve is slated for 5:30pm.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald