The Lions battle talented Nelson before falling 26-24, 25-13, 25-22
There was no quit in the West Linn volleyball team.
There was no quit, no fear and no sadness.
The Lions, the 2021 Class 6A state champions, saw their title defense come to an end on Saturday, Oct. 29, in a 26-24, 25-13, 25-22 loss to Nelson in the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs at Nelson High School.
Despite the loss, the Lions left the 2022 season proud, strong and brave.
“We’ve been working a lot on having every practice like it’s our last and going all out for everything and I think it’s really played a big part in everybody’s improving and it really showed today,” said senior defensive specialist Taylor Bell.
“We just decided to go all out like we had nothing to lose,” said senior outside hitter Amyah Semau. “We were the underdogs in this situation so we just wanted to play with our hearts and play like it was our last game. It was a really good game.”
“We were the underdogs and we had nothing to lose and we came out with everything we had,” added senior outside hitter Addie Hoover. “I’m just proud of how we came out. We didn’t roll over.”
With the loss, the 12th-ranked Lions saw their two-match winning streak snapped and finished their season with an overall record of 17-10 after finishing second in the Three Rivers League. No. 5 Nelson, meanwhile, won for the fourth straight time and the 17th time in its last 18 matches to improve to 26-3 after winning the Mt. Hood Conference.
The Lions were tough as can be in the day’s first set, breaking an early tie by outscoring Nelson 9-3 to grab a 19-13 lead, with Hoover notching two kills and teaming with junior Alana Ryan on a block. The Lions still led 23-20 when Semau took a set from junior Olivia Doel and connected down the line, but West Linn couldn’t hang on.
The Hawks, led by senior outside hitter Kalista Lukovich stormed back to win 26-24, with Lukovich getting three kills down the stretch, while freshman Madi Andrews added three of her own and an ace, and senior Madalynn Abraham closed the set with a block.
The Lions were close early in the second set, too, trailing just 11-9 after a Nelson error, but from there, the Hawks took off. They closed the set on a 14-4 scoring run that included five more Lukovich kills, including a cross-court connection from the left side for the final 25-13 margin.
With their season on the line in the third set, however, the Lions stepped up. Trailing 20-12 after an Abraham block, West Linn rallied back with one of its best stretches of the match, outscoring Nelson 8-1 and cutting the Hawks’ lead to 21-20 when Semau went cross-court from the left side of the net.
Semau had four kills in that run and junior Caroline Nielsen — who served a six-point run — added an ace.
Nelson edged away down the stretch to win, however, getting kills from Andrews, Lukovich, a tip by Abraham, and finally, another Lukovich kill to win 25-22.
While disappointed with the loss, the Lions knew they’d gone all out in their effort to win.
“I thought there were a lot of balls at the beginning of the season we wouldn’t have gone all out for,” Bell said. “But I think everybody went all out today.”
“As seniors, we were like ‘Hey. This could be the last time we ever step on the court so just leave it all out there,’ and it was a great growing point for this team,” Hoover said. “It was 20-12 and we could have rolled over and lost, but we just wanted to leave it all on the court, and honestly, I think we did that. We just wanted to give our all and we literally had no fear in that match.”
See the complete slideshow from this match by clicking here.
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