West Salem hosts McMinnville in an evenly matched volleyball battle.
The Titans are going to find out what the play-in round is like.
McMinnville High School’s volleyball team pulled out a five-game 23-25, 25-12, 26-24, 20-25, 15-13 win Thursday evening in a Greater Valley Conference match at West Salem to take control of fourth place in the GVC.
West Salem (7-7 Greater Valley Conference, 9-11 overall) falls to fifth place in the conference with two matches left and likely will be one of the eight 6A teams in the play-in round Oct. 25.
McMinnville (9-5 GVC, 13-6 overall) clinches at least the fourth spot from the GVC in the Nov. 1 first round of the OSAA Class 6A state playoffs.
So now the Titans are going to experience something new.
“Last year none of my teams ever had a play-in so it’s different for me, but I think that since we do have it, might as well go into it knowing we can win and knowing we’re a good team and can take it,” said West Salem sophomore Paige Whipple, who had 23 kills, 16 digs, four blocks and three aces.
West Salem, which had won four of its prior league matches, pulled out the close win in the first game, but the Grizzlies came back strong with big runs in the second then took the tight win in the third to go up 2-1.
“We go on passing breakdowns, and we’ve had a tendency to do that,” McMinnville coach Jenifer Gubrud said. “Some teams go on runs with us and we kind of lose some momentum. We’ve been working on not letting that happen, and when that didn’t happen it went a lot better.
“You can let good teams run points on you or you have a hard time coming back. You saw what happened to them in the second game and what happened to us in the fourth.”
West Salem came storming back in the fourth, including starting the game on a 6-0 run including two kills and an ace by sophomore Kasey Campbell and an 8-0 run to go up 18-8 on two more aces by Campbell.
But McMinnville’s hitters kept the Titans’ defense off balance all night and in the fourth broke a 10-10 tie and never surrendered control.
Madison Vicknar had 24 kills for McMinnville, which ended a three-game losing streak, and kept the Titans guessing where she would hit the ball.
“They had our blockers guessing and checking, and usually we do pretty good on that outside attack,” West Salem coach Katie Herber said. “But man, (Vicknar) can pull a line like no one I’ve seen.
“She’s a really good hitter. We had to make some adjustments, we started to make them, but then she’d go the other way. She’s a great hitter.”
bpoehler@StatesmanJournal.com, (503) 399-6701 or follow at twitter.com/bpoehler
McMinnville d. West Salem 3-2
Game scores: 23-25, 25-12, 26-24, 20-25, 15-13
At West Salem
Kills- Vicknair (M) 24, Whipple (WS) 23; Digs- Whipple (WS) 16; Blocks- McLaughlin (WS) 6B; Assists- Owre (WS) 19; Aces- Vicknair (M) 3, Whipple (WS), Campbell (WS) 3.