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Reedsport gathers for congratulations after scoring a point during its 3-0 (27-25, 25-21, 25-20) play-in round loss to Heppner on Saturday.

SAM BARBEE The World

Heading into Saturday’s playoff match against a tough Heppner squad, Reedsport’s volleyball team knew it needed to limit its miscues.

The Brave weren’t able to do that well enough, and lost to the Mustangs 27-25, 25-21, 25-20.

The first set was Reedsport’s best chance, and the Brave had a set point after back-to-back kills by Essie Cardoso and Gabby Clark, but Heppner came up with a great save to keep the ball alive and a Reedsport mistake gave Heppner the point. Two more points gave the Mustangs the first set.

“Even though we lost the first set, I thought we could win,” Cardoso said. “We just made too many mistakes.”

Reedsport had attacks go long, made poor passes that limited the opportunity to get into the offense or had other errors that kept the team from ever building a big lead on Heppner.

In both the second and third sets they were hurt by late serving runs by Heppner. Sophie Grant served four straight points, including two aces, when the Mustangs led 20-19 in the second set and Sydney Wilson had three straight aces for the Mustangs starting when Reedsport led the third set 16-15.

Reedsport was close in every set but couldn’t get over the hump.

“Dang it,” coach James Hixenbaugh said. “That’s a good team.

“They didn’t make a lot of mistakes.”

As for Reedsport, “We made too many mistakes at crucial times,” Gabby Clark said.

Serving has been a strength for Reedsport, but the Brave made four serving errors in the third set. A couple of other times, two players went for a ball at the same time, screwing up chances of making a play.

“We didn’t play bad,” Hixenbaugh said. “We just made the mistakes we’ve made all year.”

The pain of the loss was evident on the tear-streaked faces of Reedsport’s players, especially several of the seniors, who made up half the roster.

“This is the worst day of my life,” Clark said, adding that the Brave worked hard all year, too hard to lose in three sets.

“I can’t believe it’s over,” Cardoso said.

Heppner advanced to the Class 2A tournament in Redmond. Reedsport’s players were left to look back on a good season that included an unbeaten run to the league title.

“I’m proud of us,” Clark said.

Clark had 11 kills and three stuff blocks, Cardoso had 20 digs, Gabi Parker had 20 assists and three kills, Kaylee Stoltey had seven kills, and Michelle Martin had three kills and four assists.

All-League Honors

Clark was named player of the year for the Sunset Conference and Parker was the setter of the year. Cardoso also was on the first team while Jaedyn Mast was on the second team and Martin was honorable mention. Hixenbaugh was coach of the year.

The sixth senior in the group was Stoltey.

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