By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Depending on which side you are on, it was either a blazing start or your worst nightmare.
Either way you looked at it, it had helped aid South Salem in those first two sets in their 25-22, 25-13, 21-25, 25-18 win over West Salem Tuesday night at South Salem High School. The energy and intensity were there as they jumped out to a 5-0 first set lead and led 20-9 during the second set.
Catching the Titans in a lull and off-guard with the Saxons on a brink of a possible sweep entering the third set.
“It was a big key to how we won those sets. My team was really focused before the game, just getting excited. Focusing on giving your all and doing what was best for the team,” Kayleigh Carpenter said. “The energy was what won those two sets and without it, it makes it a lot harder for us.”
The Titans came out stronger than they did in the previous two sets, keeping pace with the Saxons as the tenth-ranked West Salem teams had the match at 11 and pulled even at 14 after the sixth-ranked South Salem team jumped to a 14-11 lead.
West Salem took the third set 25-21, challenging the Saxons to change up their mindset with the fourth set starting with a back-and-forth 5-5 tie. The mental approach was what changed for the Titans in the third set going into the fourth with Mountain View coming to town Thursday night.
“Our energy was a lot different, we fought back harder. We just turned it around in our heads,” West Salem’s Laci Jepersen. “We definitely learned that we need to keep our energy up. Take the negative out of our heads and keep it positive. We’ll be a lot more positive.”
“We kind of took our foot off the gas-pedal a little bit,” Carpenter adds of the Titans rally. “We were doing so good those first two sets that we kind of expected to win. Once we lost that third set we got that focus (back) and turned it around and we got that next set. We just got to play the third set like we did the first two.”
South settled down in the fourth set, turning the 5-5 game into a 15-5 lead. Hinting towards a possible big margin of victory until West Salem clawed back into the set and got it to 19-14 and hovered around that five-point margin before the Saxons shut the door.
Ensuring that the match won’t go to a fifth-set as their first meeting with South Salem rebounding from their loss to Oregon City from Saturday as they’ll host McNary Thursday night.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald