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La Grande Observer 12/22/14

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Vikings ousted by Tigers

La Grande senior Cassidy Crites recorded five  kills against Suislaw Saturday. The Tigers win in straight sets.
La Grande senior Cassidy Crites recorded five kills against Suislaw Saturday. The Tigers win in straight sets.

LHS defense keys sweep against Suislaw in play-in game 

It wasn’t the Vikings that really bothered La Grande, but a change in routine, according to Tigers head coach Melinda Becker-Bisenius. 

“We didn’t come out with the fire we wanted to,” Becker-Bisenius said. “The match before against Vale, we did. It’s a totally different schedule once you get into the playoffs, and that can throw the team off. I’m proud of the way that the team came back and took care of business.”

By Paul Harder

The Observer

La Grande senior Kendall Kirkland will get exactly what she hoped for three months ago.

Kirkland and her Tiger volleyball teammates will make a third-straight trip to Eugene for the Class 4A state volleyball championships after defeating Siuslaw in straight sets 25-21, 25-16, 25-19 in a second round state play-in game Saturday.

“Obviously I wanted to be able to make it back to Eugene as a senior,” Kirkland said. “That was the goal of all the seniors before we played our first preseason game.”

a Grande used its height on the front-line to keep the Vikings offense in check. 

Senior Cassidy Crites and junior Anna Grigsby formed the wall for the Tigers at the net. 

“Cassidy played probably her best game of the season today,” La Grande head coach Melinda Becker-Bisenius said. “She did a great job blocking shots and just changing the lanes (Suislaw) were trying to hit through. Cassidy also had a great hitting night.”

Crites led the team with three blocks.  She also had five kills and 11 digs.

Grigsby and Kirkland each had two solo blocks.

Junior Hanna Cashell got the offense going early with four kills in the opening set, and she finished with eight kills in the match. 

Grigsby led the team in kills, with 11, and aces, with five.

“It took everybody this match,” Becker-Bisenius said. “We had some girls that were a little off, and some others that stepped up to help out. That’s what you hope your team will do.”

Becker-Bisenius inserted Kali Avila into the line-up at game-time. Avila, a junior, served as the second setter in the rotation. She had missed time during the middle of the season with an illness.

“It could have gone either way,” Becker-Bisenius said. “Shania (Holpuch) was filling that role the last several matches, and doing a good job. It was a last second decision, and Kali played great.”

Avila finished with seven assists. She also helped the defensive effort in the backrow with 11 digs.

Senior libero Brandy Blackman and Kirkland each finished with 11 digs. Kirkland also recorded 17 assists.

La Grande will open the eight-team bracket against Hidden Valley at 10:15 a.m. Friday. Hidden Valley snuck by Estacada in five sets 28-26, 21-25, 25-18, 15-25, 15-6 Saturday. The Mustangs are 18-1 this season, and went 10-0 in the Skyline League this season. Hidden Valley played Suislaw at the Marshfield Tournament Oct. 19, and lost a two-game match. 

“It’s great for the program to make another trip to Eugene,” Becker-Bisenius said. “It allows the seniors to go out trying to get a state title, and it allows the younger girls a chance to see what it’s like to play at that level.”

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