By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

SALEM—Another close first game turned into a blowout as McNary went on the road and defeated North Salem 3-0 on Thursday, Sept. 7.

The Lady Celts looked like they would easily win the first set, taking a 15-8 advantage.

However, unforced errors gave North Salem life and the Lady Vikings took full advantage, tying the game at 23-23 after McNary missed on back-to-back kills, one wide and another long.

The Lady Celts were able to regroup and win the next two points to take the first game 25-23.

“We started slow but we picked it up at the end of the game,” libero Sophia Salinas said. “We talked way more and started playing less frantic and more disciplined. It was just our energy level.”

MHS head coach Crystal DeMello agreed the Lady Celts energy wasn’t where it needed to be.

“North had amazing energy and we need to mirror that,” DeMello said. “That’s something that they need to learn from this. They know better.”

Slow starts have been a common theme this season. McNary played a similar match at McKay.

“They have to find their groove right off the bat,” DeMello said. “It’s something that we’ve been working on. It’s the goal they set every single game. They just need to come out strong straight from the get go and remember routines when we’re at away games.”

The Lady Celts had less trouble in the second and third games, winning easily 25-12 and 25-13.

“We were looking to clean up our passes,” DeMello said. “They were really tight to the net. We need to make sure that we clean that up as well as everything you do before you touch a ball. We started connecting. We got our middles on. We started distributing the ball and defense, they made their adjustments. The girls finally started getting where they needed to be. Sometimes it’s the difference between one step whether or not you can make that play.”

The win improved McNary’s record to 4-1 with the only loss coming to undefeated South Salem.

“We’re just taking it one day and one game at a time,” DeMello said. “I always see what we can improve on. Right now they’re serving well. They’re taking advantage of what they can and when they get momentum we tend to get runs. That’s all I can ask of them right now.”