Oregon City volleyball finishes second in state after playing five sets against Jesuit

Alabama Crimson

Despite dropping the first two sets, Jesuit battled back to defeat No. 3-ranked Oregon City 21-25, 22-25, 25-19, 25-18, and 15-13 in what was a memorable state championship match on Saturday night, Nov. 4, at Forest Grove High School.

Pioneers appeared ready to sweep the Crusaders after convincing wins in both the first and second sets. But the momentum shifted in the third set and Oregon City — for whatever reason — just couldn’t seem to get it back.

“We did feel pretty good,” Oregon City standout Paige Thies said. “I think we kind of let off the gas in the third and fourth sets thinking that we kind of had it, but I think Jesuit just came back with more fire.”

Thies went on to say that despite the loss, the experience of the match and season as a whole was both memorable and historical for Oregon City High School, which had never reached such a level of success.

“This was amazing,” she said. “This was the first time in our school’s history ever making it to the championship game, and it was just so amazing to be on the court playing in this.”

Pioneers head coach Erica Frafjord said she couldn’t have been prouder of her team, and was quick to say that while this year was historic for Oregon City High School in many ways, the season finale defeat was far from an end, and much more like a beginning.

“This is the highest we’ve ever played, and we’ve been building it for years,” Frafjord said. “We have great kids and we’re ready to stay. We’re building something more than just a one time shot. We’re on the map now and we want people to know that we’re legit.”

And while Oregon City was in a way looking forward, Zimmerlee couldn’t help but look backwards in the wake of their come-from-behind-victory, as a form of redemption for last year’s team that wasn’t able to experience such a win.

“I wish that those kids who graduate last year could have had this experience,” the Jesuit coach said. “But these girls were bringing it for them too.”

In addition to Lansing, Ross and Williams, the Crusaders were led by Jada Johnson who finished with four kills, three digs and an ace; Addy Azavedo who tallied 14 digs; and Tiana Takayama who had seven digs.

Oregon City’s Brooke Williams had eight kills and four aces; Grace Landon had five kills, an ace and three digs; and Jordyn Marquett added four kills and three digs.

Trailing two-sets-to-none it appeared that for the second straight year the top-ranked Jesuit volleyball team was going to fall a match short of their goal of a state championship. But despite recent history and a formidable hole from which to dig from, the Crusaders chose to fight in the face of adversity and the end result was what had become an elusive state title.

“We said that we needed to play for each other and that we had nothing to lose,” Jesuit’s Lilly Lansing said regarding the team conversation after falling behind two sets to none. “This was the last time playing this season and we needed to just leave it all on the court.”

Lansing led Jesuit with 17 kills to go with eight digs.

Together, with fellow senior Emma Williams and sophomore Sadie Ross, the trio combined for 46 of the Crusaders’ 57 kills.

Lansing said that in light of what had happened in last year’s state final loss to Sheldon, along with what occurred in this match’s first two sets, the win was extra sweet.

“I don’t know how to put it into words, but it’s a crazy feeling,” she said. “I’m really glad we got our stuff together and I’m just overly delighted with how my team played, and that we pulled it out.”

Jesuit head coach Teresa Zimmerlee too said the win meant more as a result of last year’s unsavory ending.

“They worked hard all year long to get here,” the coach said. “They were a little sore about the loss last year, so they were bound and determined to get back here and give it a shot.”

Zimmerlee said the team wasn’t themselves early, but after some time got more comfortable, leading to their heightened performance as the match progressed.

“They came out and were a little hesitant and a little bit off, but then they settled down,” she said.

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