The Junction City volleyball team traveled down to Cottage Grove looking to even the season series after the Lions took the Tigers 3-0 down in their own turf earlier in the season.
After four close sets, Junction City would come out on top 3-1 making the fight for the league title come down to the final week and three teams possibly in contention for the top spot.
The Lions would take control in the first set after gaining the lead at 14-13 and not look back the rest of the way.
Gracie Arnold and Izabell Senters powered the Lions with some great hitting, to a 4-0 run growing the lead to 17-13. Cottage Grove held firm control the rest of the set when Senters served an ace making it 24-17 Lions then Arnold closed out the set with a huge hit giving Cottage Grove a 25-17 set victory.
The second set would virtually be back and forth until Junction City took the lead at 13-12. Kaylee Glazer would cement her place as her hits grew the lead to 20-15, forcing Coach Ladd to have to burn her second timeout of the set.
The Lions tried to rally, adding points from a couple Junction City hits going out of bounds, but would fall just short as the Tigers took the second set 25-23.
Cottage Grove took a very early 3-0 lead on Junction City, but the Tigers would quickly flip the script after the score reached 4-3 in favor of Junction City and they would take control of the forth set. The Tigers kept Cottage Grove at bay the rest of the set as the Lions never got closer than five at 19-14. Glazer would be a key factor again at the end of the set adding two hits to help close out the set for the Tigers 25-16.
With Junction City having a lead of two sets to one, Cottage Grove were looking to make a comeback in the fourth and force a fifth set. The start would be very tight as both teams exchanged points until a 6-6 tie. The Lions would get out in front after two mistakes by the Junction City defense and more hits from Senters and Arnold.
Junction City would hang around and continue to pressure the Lions as they tied the game at 16. The Tigers took the lead at 17-16 and grew their lead as the set went on. The visiting team bench started to get louder after a long rally went the Tigers’ way and their lead extended to 21-17.
Cottage Grove took their last timeout trying to find a spark in their offense but would only muster three more points the rest of the set. Junction City continued to ride the momentum all the way to a 25-20 set win and ended the Lions’ hope for a fifth set. The Tigers rode the bus home with a 3-1 victory over Cottage Grove.
“We just didn’t play to our potential that we know we can reach because we’ve seen ourselves reach it this season and we just didn’t do it against them,” said Coach Ladd after the game. “We’re definitely focused on coming back together as a team so we can support each other through the hardships and through the frustrating times and really diving into bringing it back together as a team and building each other back up.”
Cottage Grove still has an inside track for the league and playoffs as they will face other top league contender Siuslaw for the possible deciding league game on senior night Oct. 21 at 6 p.m.
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