Volleyball: Huskies clinch tournament berth with 3-0 win over Mac High

After a 3-2 loss to No. 2 Cascade at home last week, Sweet Home’s volleyball players clinched a berth in the state playoffs Saturday with a play-in 3-0 win over McLoughlin.

Sweet Home (9-3, 11-5), seeded seventh, will open the playoffs at home Saturday, Oct. 30, against an opponent that had not yet been designated at press time, which will be seeded 10th. The winner will advance to the quarterfinals Tuesday, Nov. 2, against the winner of the faceoff between No. 2 Cascade (10-2, 18-4) and the No. 15-seeded team.

The higher-seeded team hosts the games through the qurterfinals. Semifinals and finals will be Friday and Saturday, Nov. 5 and 6, at Corvallis High School.

The Huskies beat Newport 25-13, 25-12, 25-17 on the road Oct. 19 in “a good game,” Coach Mary Hutchins said. “We played well and took care of business and did the things we needed to do, which was stay in system and be consistent with our serving and offense.”

The game against Cascade on Oct. 21 was not only the final regular-season appearance at home for Sweet Home’s five seniors, but it would break a three-way tie for first place in the Oregon West Conference.

“There were a lot of feelings and emotions,” Hutchins said. “It was a five-set, very intense match-up. Both teams had a lot on the line.”

She said the Huskies were unable to convert when they needed to, which put them on the losing end of the 26-24, 16-25, 25-20, 25-15, 25-8 score.

“In crucial moments we made some errors that cost us,” Hutchins said. “On the flip side, (Cascade) is a team that has been predicted to be in the finals of the state championship and to see us execute and be right there with them and have the ability to win is a big accomplishment. I think the girls have worked hard all season and are really putting the effort in at practice and are putting themselves in the best possible position to end the season strong.

“Honestly, it could have been a state finals game, with the level of play being put forth. We served super tough, probably the toughest we have served since we played Sisters. Even though our serve receive broke down in the fourth set, it’s been something we have worked on all season and we had moments of greatness with it during sets 1-3.”

The Huskies have asked a lot of their younger and less-experienced players this season, she said.

” We are pushing them and they are responding in a great way.”

Hosting Mac High on Saturday, Oct. 23, the Huskies took care of business quickly, winning 25-13, 25-10, 25-11 after just missing the final automatic-qualifier spot.

Though they had one day to prepare after the loss to Cascade, “they responded well, came out and executed on defense and we got a three-set win,” Hutchins said.

“This gave us a big big accomplishment and sealed a goal we made at the beginning of the season to go to the state playoffs. I think we have surprised a lot of people this year and we are hoping to continue doing that.  I am very proud of this team and our high school volleyball program.

“All the coaches and players have committed to being the best they can be and worked hard to achieve their goals.”