By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

No matter what the cards hold for them as the rest of the season unfolds, the Lady Celts have met the challenges on the court this season thus far.

In the first month, the McNary varsity volleyball team has scraped and clawed in three matches with Sunset High School, a perennial powerhouse on the volleyball circuit.

The most recent clash occurred Saturday, Oct. 2, at a tournament in Oregon City. McNary lost to the team in consecutive sets, 26-24 and 25-19.

“We were just right there,” said Dustin Walker, McNary head coach. “A couple extra plays here and there and it could have gone the other way.”

Despite the loss, there were plenty of lessons, said Celt Keri Stein.

“It’s good because we’re playing against one of those top teams and it lets us know what we need to improve,” Stein said. “For us, it means limiting unforced errors and stopping when they get two or three points in a row.”

Early in the tournament, the Celts beat Wilson in two, split with Centennial, and beat Oregon City high schools. In the first round of bracket play, the Celts faced down Oregon City again.

“[Oregon City] is a good team and well-coached. To go out and win back-to-back was a huge lift for our team and real encouraging,” Walker said.

The team battled through a few moments of uncertainty, Stein said.

“We were working on a new rotation and it was shaky at first, but we worked through it,” she said.

Earlier in the week, McNary defeated in West Salem and South Salem, 3-0.

The Lady Celts were amped to hit the court against the Titans, said Kimberly Moisan, the varsity team’s sole freshman.

“We’d read some things with people saying they didn’t think we’d be able to beat them. We used that as a motivation and wiped them,” she said.

The Celts won 25-16, 25-6 and 25-17. Deven Hunter led in kills, 11, and blocks, 5.

Stein recorded 12 digs, Whittley Harrell chalked up four aces and Megan Holland had 22 assists. Madi Cavell recorded 10 kills, four blocks and three aces.

McNary followed that performance with an unbalanced win over South Salem High School, 25-19, 25-12 and 25-23.

“We underestimated them a bit and had some communication problems getting the ball where we needed to go,” Moisan said.

Cavell had nine kills, six aces, and three block. Simona Arnautov added four aces, Holland put up 18 assists and Harrell put in 22 digs. Hunter had two blocks.

Overall, the Lady Celts improved their record to 4-0 in league and 5-2 for the season.