McNary’s Ariana Neads digs deep for a pass to the McNary front row in the Celts’ game with Newberg High School Saturday, Oct. 27. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

The McNary High School varsity volleyball team drew Newberg High School for its play-in opponent and walked off the court with a 3-1 win and a state tournament berth.

The two teams clashed Saturday, Oct. 27, at McNary.

“We matched up well with them because we are both very young teams, meaning we have moments of playing very well, but also moments of very inconsistent play,” said Kellie Scholl, McNary head coach.

She added that the game went the Lady Celts way because of fewer inconsistencies on the night.

“We played together as a team and it felt felt good, like everyone was there for the same goal,” said McNary’s Allison McGregor.

McNary built up a quick 3-0 lead in the first set, but the Tigers tied it up just as quickly. The Celts had their biggest leads on serves by Lexi Price and Baili Keeton and had a 19-13 game on their hands when Newberg edged back into it.

A few volleys later, an ace by Lauren Hudgins put McNary back in control 22-17. A kill behind the Tiger back line by Gracie Rueda put McNary at 23-20, but Newberg got the ball back on a serve that landed out of bounds.

Freshman Reina Strand notched a kill to bring up game point and then reached over the net to knock down Newberg’s long forward pass on a Ariana Neads’ serve to win the set 25-21.

The girls’ second set was even more tumultuous. McNary pulled ahead 16-10 on strong service by Price and then traded traded points for the next several volleys. Newberg tied up the game on a kill and took a 21-20 lead before Strand spiked the tying point.

Allison McGregor put the team back in control at 22-21 and two timely blocks by Strand brought up game point. McGregor aced the serves to win the second set.

Newberg rebounded to dominate a 25-15 third set win, but the Celts scratched their way back to a 25-22 win in the fourth set for the match win.

Price had 20 digs for the night, Keeton and McGregor added 10 each and Meagan Douglas put up nine digs.  Hudgins came up with six blocks and five kills. Strand had two blocks and seven kills and Alyssa Andretta had one block and six kills.

“Bri Nay set very well moving the ball around to all our hitters,” Scholl said.

The game also highlighted a new formation for the team on the court.

“We have been playing around with the line-up trying to create more offense and improve on the consistency of our defense. I think with the Newberg match, all our girls really stepped up and performed very well in their roles on the court. The new lineup has allowed us to add Meagan Douglas which helps on our defense, and lets our front row focus on offense. McKenzie Evers has also been able to come in on the right side and put up a big block for us,” Scholl said. “We have been working a lot on our offensive game, we don’t have the big hitters that can put the ball away, so we need to work on placing the ball in the open holes on the court, and cutting down on our errors.”

McNary ended league play last week in what Scholl termed an “ugly” match with Sprague High School. The Olys swept the contest with scores of 25-14, 25-17 and 25-17. Price led the team with eight digs and Andretta put up six. The team only had 27 digs for the night.

McNary traveled to square off with Lakeridge High School in the first round of the playoffs Wednesday, Oct. 31, past press time.

“We just need to come out and play super strong and take it from there,” McGregor said.