The Pacers come from behind to win the first Battle of the Lake
The Lake Oswego volleyball team struck first.
The Lakers, playing crosstown rival Lakeridge in the twice-annual Battle of the Lake, shocked the Pacers with a 25-18 win in the first set of their match at Lakeridge High School on Tuesday, Sept. 20.
But while the Pacers got knocked down in that first set, they didn’t stay down. They rallied to win the next three sets — and the match — 3-1, posting a final score of 18-25, 25-9, 25-15 and 25-16.
“I think that happens to us a lot,” said Lakeridge junior outside hitter Sydney Hamlin, who finished with eight kills and one ace. “Even our last game, the first set was just crazy. We just lost it — we weren’t quite focused — but in the next set, we always come back and we have our heads in the game.”
“I think in the first set, we came out a little bit nervous,” said Pacer senior setter/right side hitter Lila Strupp, who had four kills, one block and seven aces. “We were really excited about this game so there was a lot of pressure on us, but after that, I think we came together and realized ‘We can do this and we just need to play our game.’”
With the win, the 14th-ranked Pacers’ third in their past four matches, Lakeridge improved to 3-1 in Three Rivers League play and 5-4 overall. No. 31 Lake Oswego, meanwhile, lost for the second straight time and fell to 2-3 in TRL play and 2-4 overall.
While disappointed with their loss, the Lakers celebrated their success in the first set.
“I think we came in with a lot of drive and we really wanted to win,” said senior right side hitter Claire Williams, who had five kills and four aces. “There was a buildup to this and we worked on what we needed to work on in practice and we were really excited about this game.”
“In our practices, we really worked on blocking so I saw a lot of improvement tonight,” added senior setter/right side hitter Grace Wollmuth. “In the first set especially, we were really working together and talking a lot. That’s just the most important thing that we need to keep up.”
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The night’s first set was as close as could be, with the game tied 18-18 when Pacer senior Sydney Littler made a kill off the Laker block. But the Lakers took over there, winning a sideout on sophomore Gabby Troche’s kill, then stringing together six straight points with junior Kennedy Othus serving.
LO senior Vivi Kaelin had two kills in that stretch, senior Casey Moran added one and Othus an ace as the Lakers pulled away.
The Pacers, however, didn’t blink. Instead, they opened the second set on a 10-0 run that knocked Lake Oswego back on its heels and helped Lakeridge reclaim momentum. Strupp served her team through that stretch, notching four aces while junior Caroline Woodcock added a kill, and senior Isabella Walsh and Woodcock teamed up for a block.
The Lakers tried to battle back with a pair of kills from Kaelin, but Pacer senior Niyah Coleman served out the set at 25-9 with an ace, while Walsh made a kill set by Strupp.
Lake Oswego started quickly in the third set, grabbing an 11-6 lead with senior Rachel Williams serving four straight points and Wollmuth’s kill from the left side giving her team that five-point lead.
But Lakeridge took off from there, closing the set on a 19-4 run to win 25-15. Woodcock led the way in that stretch with a tip, a block and three aces, while Coleman added three kills, Strupp had two kills and a block, and Hamlin two more kills.
The Lakers were solid early in the fourth set, too, matching the Pacers point-for-point and leading 14-13 when Kaelin connected from the left side. But as was the case in the third set, Lakeridge closed with a flurry.
The Pacers scored 12 of the night’s final 14 points to win 25-16, with Othus getting two aces and two kills in that stretch, while Strupp had a kill and two aces, and Coleman and Walsh one kill each.
After the match, the Pacers said their strong serving played a huge role in the win.
“I think serving is like a gift to your team so you should use it,” Hamlin said. “I think the past couple of weeks we haven’t been very good at serving — we’ve been missing a lot — but I think tonight we came back so I was proud of that.”
For the Lakers, Wollmuth said she was hopeful about her team’s chances.
“They’re a tough team, but I thought we fought hard,” she said. “I think we’re coming together great. It’s a big change because we have a lot of new players and younger players this year, but it’s good because I think we’re setting the standard for the program going on.”
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