It has been a season of checking things off their list and on Saturday night the Cottage Grove volleyball checked off another important box. This one was to qualify for next weekend’s state quarterfinals at Forest Grove and by taking down Banks in straight sets (25-17, 25-15, 25-20) at home, they did exactly that.
“We’re going back. This was on our list but I think since we’ve been there before – last year – we have higher expectations of going in and have the goal of taking the tournament,” said Cottage Grove head coach Kendra Anderson. “That’s what they’re reaching for.”
After an 11-day break since their last game, the third ranked Lions started off slow and the 14th ranked Braves seized an early five-point advantage. After a timeout, Cottage Grove regrouped and the first point back was a Reilly Kelty kill that showed the team that they were going to be just fine. Kelty led the team in kills with 12 on the day in addition to seven digs and four aces.
In the second set, the Lions lacked some of their normal intensity but their depth helped guide them to the victory. Cassidy Herbert finished the day with 11 kills, 10 digs and four aces; Lauren Witty had 37 assists and six kills; Matty Ladd recorded six kills and three blocks; Sam May had 12 digs.
“Our energy wasn’t like when we won league necessarily. It was just like, another thing on the list to do,” said Herbert. “I feel like we just made it – okay, we’re going to go out and play this game. It’s a check.”
It was more of the same in the third set but this time the Lions trailed 19-13 when they simply decided to flip the switch.
“They just need to turn it around they made the decision. We called a timeout, they made the decision,” said Anderson. “Nope, we’re not going to a fourth set, we’re changing it now. They went right back out and they did it.”
The Lions were able to finish the set on a 12-2 run to secure their place among the top teams in 4A. It is the second season in a row for the Lions to be playing at Forest Grove. Last season they were an 11-seed that lost in the quarterfinals to a three seed. This year, they enter as the three seed.
“None of us had ever been to the tournament before and it’s way different than your regular tournament because it’s Forest Grove and it’s huge. And it’s really tall and the lights are huge and everything is different,” said Herbert. “Having that (experience) we know what to expect… and it feels a lot better knowing that.”
Cottage Grove will take on sixth-ranked Tillamook on Friday at 3:15. The game can be streamed from OSAA’s website.