WOODBURN— The old adage that you can't beat a good team three times in a season was at stake last night at Woodlan High School.
Superstitions aside, the Warriors were winners of a nail-biting, five-set affair to open up sectional play against the Adams Central Lady Jets 25-18, 23-25, 18-25, 25-18, 14-16.
The difficulty of beating the Warriors three times in a season was not lost on AC head coach Ashley Beard after the match.
"I'm probably the most superstitious person in the world. I'm wearing the same clothes I had on when we beat Woodlan the first two times. The fact is that they were gunning for us. They know everything about us and they did not want us to beat them three times."
The match went to a decisive fifth set after the Jets took the first frame, then came back with a win in game four despite losing the previous two games.
Central took a 2-0 lead in the final frame and then 4-1 when Haley Gross put a block on Woodlan's top hitter Tori Bontrager. The 6'1" Warrior senior would get some revenge, however, with a kill a few points later, then three straight aces to give Woodlan the lead 6-5 in the race to 15.
"We played well at times and then Woodlan would pick it up and put runs on us," analyzed Beard.
The teams would tie three times after that with Bontrager blocking a point to give the Warriors an 11-10 lead late. A few points later, Bontrager blasted a kill to make it match point at 14-11.
"We tried to mix it up a bit with Abby on the right side but towards the end you could see the nerves, especially when were were down to our final point for awhile," noted Beard. "It was definitely emotional but they fought hard."
And fight the Jets would, as Whitney Peterson came through with a huge point to steal back the serve on a kill. A difficult serve from Jenni Baumer was mishandled by the Warriors and then the Jet junior would ace the next serve tying the match at 14-14.
In the end, however, it was slightly poetic as Bontrager took the game into her own hands smashing a kill straight to the floor on the next point and had a solo block on the final play of the match that skipped harmlessly on the Jets' side to end the AC season.
"I'd trade the ACAC title for a chance to keep playing but I'm very proud of what this team did accomplish this season," admitted Beard. The Jets were undefeated 7-0 in the conference this year taking their second-straight title and a tournament trophy as well topping the Warriors twice on the way.
The Jets looked every bit the sectional favorite in the opening frame using quick offense and taking advantage when hitters Bontrager and Burgundy Price were in the back row. Gross' kill ended the set with an AC seven-point victory.
Central errors made the second set interesting from start to finish. The set featured 11 ties including eight straight stalemates from 5-5 until 12-12 living up to the billing the match was touted to be between the two squads.