Viks close but can’t tame Lions

Siuslaw senior Zoe Alberty is one of two captains on the Viking volleyball team. She and teammate Alizabeth Norton, also a senior, celebrate a point against Cottage Grove on Oct. 5.

Siuslaw drops close match between top two teams in Sky-Em

Oct. 7, 2021 — Cottage Grove d Siuslaw 23-25, 13-25, 25-14, 25-21, 15-10

The Siuslaw Viking volleyball team completed the first half of Sky-Em league play with a hard-fought loss to Cottage Grove on Tuesday. The loss put the Vikings (3-2 in league) in a tie for second place with Marshfield (3-2), two games back of the undefeated Lions (5-0).

Siuslaw came out of the gates firing on all cylinders and took the first two games, but Cottage Grove snatched the momentum in the third game and never gave it back to take the match 3-2.

The first set was close, but the Vikings seemed to be in control the entire time. Siuslaw took the lead at 7-6 and never gave it up. The Lions kept the score tight, but the Vikings held on to win the first set 25-23.

Set two was all Siuslaw. The Vikings went up 7-0 and never allowed the Lions to get closer than five points.

Freshmen Rhianna Lane and Mylee Blake showed the bright future of the Siuslaw volleyball program by dominating the Lions at the net.

“The first two sets we were on fire,” said Viking Coach Kari Blake. “The girls were covering the court well and were just pounding the ball at them for two straight sets. They weren’t easy-earned points, but the girls were playing some good ball against an aggressive Cottage Grove team. I thought we found our stride. We were getting good sets to Desi (Tupua) out of the middle and she was attacking them from all angles.”

Set three was all Cottage Grove. The Lions went up 10 early, 14-4, and never let the Vikings back in it. Siuslaw fell 25-14.

“We weren’t the same team in the third set,” said Blake.

After going up four points early, set four turned into more of the same for Siuslaw.

“We tried to put set three behind us and move forward but we got off to another slow start in the fourth set,” said Blake. “We narrowed the score to within a few points late, but we made some errors at those pivotal moments that cost us that one also.”

Cottage grove took set four 25-21.

By the fifth and deciding set, it was all Lions. The Vikings got within two at 12-10 but those would be their last points of the night as Cottage Grove won the deciding set 15-10.

“Ultimately, we played some really great ball at times, but we also had a lot of errors on the books and the score reflected that,” said Blake. “The girls started playing timid, making mistakes and unfortunately we just weren’t able to overcome those challenges tonight.”

Strong senior leadership assures that a loss like this will be a learning experience as opposed to something the team will dwell upon.

Senior captain Zoe Alberty has a short memory when it comes to losses.

“When facing a tough loss, I reflect on what to improve on and then use the loss as motivation to keep pushing hard and practicing harder,” Alberty said. “I also try to focus on the games to come and put losses behind me”

Though there were errors on the books, there were also some stats that highlighted good play by the Vikings on the night.

Tupua had an outstanding night, as indicated by her team-leading 17 kills. She also had 5 aces, 20 digs and 6 blocks. Other stat leaders on the night include Mylee Blake with 14 kills, followed by Hailee Outlaw with 10. Rhianna Lane led the team with 7 blocks.

Though the loss was significant, the game marks the half-way point of the league season for both teams. Siuslaw will get a chance to avenge their two first half losses, to Cottage Grove and Marshfield, and are still strong contenders for the Sky-Em League crown. The league is well represented in the OSAA 4A Top 20 Rankings with Cottage Grove (#6), followed by Siuslaw (#8), Junction City (#10), Marshfield (#15) and Marist (#20).

In fact, the Viking’s expectations are not dampened at all after the loss and the team is looking forward to the second half of the league season.

“I expect our team to take first or second in league this year,” said Alberty. “I hope we continue to grow as the season finishes up. I also expect us to make it to the state tournament. This is a great year for Siuslaw volleyball. Our motto this whole season has been ‘why not us.’ That motto sums up the expectations for this season. Siuslaw volleyball will continue to improve and compete.” 

The Vikings played Marist on Oct. 7 after press deadlines and are on the court next when they travel to Marshfield on Tuesday, Oct. 12, at 6:45 p.m.