McNary’s Ashlee Koenig sends the ball over her head and over the net during a hard-fought volley with the Saxons last week. The Lady Celts lost the match 3-1. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

McNary High School’s varsity volleyball team was tied for third in the Central Valley Conference with West Salem High School as the teams clashed Tuesday, Oct. 16.

Both teams entered the game with 3-4 league records, but the Titans pulled out a 3-1 win to take sole possession of third place in the league.

West overpowered McNary to a 25-17 win in the first set, but Celts bouced back and escaped with a 26-24 win in the second. Apparently the Titans didn’t take too well to the loss and put McNary away with scores of 25-6 and 25-18 for the match win.

The loss virtually assures that McNary will have to take down an as-yet unknown opponent in a playoff play-in game to secure a spot in the postseason. McNary will also have to face the undefeated Sprague Olympians in its final CVC contest.

“When we play together as a team everything comes together really quickly for us and we figure it out, sometimes we just need that extra pressure,” said Lady Celt Rachel Stupfel.

The Titan win was the third loss for the McNary team in as many games. Last week, the Celts fell to South Salem High School in four sets with scores of 15-25, 21-25, 25-14, 20-25.

Despite the loss, McNary engaged in some epic volleys with the Saxons in the first sets of the game.

“I think we played pretty well, We are pretty evenly matched with South and once the volleys started it made everyone want to play that much harder,” said Stupfel.

Lexi Price had 12 kills and 25 digs, Alyssa Andretta had five kills and eight digs, Kaelie Flores had three kills and two blocks, Ashlee Koenig had three kills and Baili Keeton had 30 digs and three aces.

“I think the girls have come a long way from the beginning of the season, their communication has improved tremendously, and our defense is very strong,” said McNary Head Coach Kellie Scholl. “We need work on eliminating our offensive errors and playing more as one team.”

Stupfel said getting tough serves across the net is one thing the Celts could focus on to prepare to end the season with a bang.

“Whether it’s getting our serves where we want them to go or getting that good first pass on the return, those can set the stage for us,” she said.