By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
The scores alone (25-21, 25-22 and 25-22) made the McNary High School varsity volleyball loss to West Albany High School a heartbreaker.
The only thing that makes it ache that much more for the Lady Celts is knowing how close they were to beating the Bulldog team.
“We would have a lead the whole entire game and then we would just drop once we got to 20 points,” said McNary senior Vanessa Hayes.
The Bulldogs, in their second year returning to OSAA 6A ranks, seem determined to remain a thorn in the side of the Celtics. West Albany is the only Greater Valley Conference team the McNary didn’t beat at least once in 2014.
“I feel like we kind of beat ourselves. We had some errors and they just didn’t make many mistakes. Our energy wasn’t where it normally is,” said Madi Hingston, a Celtic senior.
Hayes also attributed the team’s first league loss to a lack of communication during the match Thursday, Sept. 10.
The better news for McNary was that the loss was only one of three contests last week and the Lady Celts won the other two, in a double-header no less.
“There was a big difference in focus in the matches against McMinnville and West Salem (high schools),” Hingston said.
Those matches were played Tuesday, Sept. 8. McNary handled the Grizzlies with ease after some back-and-forth in the beginning of the first set. The Lady Celts went on to win with scores of 25-15, 25-16 and 25-15.
Hayes had 12 kills, six blocks and nine digs, Hingston had nine kills and 10 digs. Kylie Gilmour had 15 digs and had a 2.4 passing average.
With that win in the can, Hayes said the team hit the court pumped for the Titans.
“We were the most excited we have ever been. We had great connection and we stuck together by celebrating every point like it was the last one,” Hayes said.
It took four sets, but McNary won with scores of 20-25, 27-25, 25-22 and 25-20. Hayes had 21 kills, two blocks, and 11 digs; Hingston had nine kills, 17 digs, and passed a 2.46 average; Sydney Hunter had nine kills; and Jaylene Montano and Gilmour both added 13 digs.
“For they night Vanessa played well, and Kaelie Flores did a great job at the net for us. Maddie Cloyd ran the court well, and Jaylene and Kylie played some of the best defense we have seen out of them yet. Sydney Hunter did a great job coming off or her leg injury – she is almost back to full form,” said Kellie Scholl, McNary head coach.
Hingston said the team had all the skills to bounce back despite the tough loss to West Albany.
“Our offense has been pretty strong and well-balanced. Our defense is improving lately and we’ve thrown in a new system and that’s been working well for us,” Hingston said.