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Reedsport Volleyball Vs. Bandon

Reedsport players celebrate a point Thursday during a set against Bandon at Reedsport High School.

REEDSPORT — Something switched for the Reedsport volleyball team during the first set against Bandon on Thursday night at home.

It wasn’t just that the Brave were able to clean up early mistakes but that, as was echoed across the team, they were able to keep their composure while trailing. This resulted in Reedsport chipping away at a deficit and, ultimately, sweeping the Tigers (25-19, 25-11, 25-16) to improve to 2-1 in Sunset Conference play.

“There is a lot of growth because at times when we get down like that we fall apart and don’t fight back," Reedsport coach James Hixenbaugh said. "What we’ve been working on the whole year is when you get down you’ve got to fight back, can’t just roll over and give up and let the other team win this set.

“So I saw a lot of that, I saw a lot of the girls being positive, not getting down on themselves and we’ve been focusing on that.”

Trailing 5-0 — in part because of three aces from Bandon’s Taylyn Arana — Reedsport burned an early timeout in hopes of righting the tide. After slowing the fast start, the Tigers put together another run to take a nine-point lead at 16-7.

But after that, for the rest of the set and the match, it was all Reedsport.

“That first set, yeah, we needed to figure out where we were on the court, we needed to communicate better. It was about communication. And then we figured it out, I think, pretty well and we came back,” said Reedsport junior Riley Wright. “It’s empowering for everyone. Any position, you’re like, ‘We got this.’ It’s a confidence boost.”

After early struggles, that confidence boosted Reedsport to an 18-3 run to close out the set. During the run, the Brave got contributions from across the team including a stuff block to take the lead from Wright and a kill to finish the set.

Wright filled the stat sheet on the night with a team-high nine kills to go with four blocks, two digs and an ace. Reedsport senior Makenzie Seely had 14 assists and three aces while sophomore Cassy Galan had five digs, two aces and one assist.

Reedsport’s start to the second set was a polar opposite of the first as the Brave jumped out to a 7-2 lead.

“I think after our first set, and in the second and third, we just got at it after that," Reedsport junior Divinity Farris said. "There was no going down. We had to keep going and we just pushed as hard as we could and the other team pushed and I mean, I’m just really proud of my team tonight.

“Everybody pulled through and did well. And we had amazing serves, I’m proud of us for that.”

With aces across the board, the main culprit on the night was Farris who recorded five on the night. Seemingly unhittable in the second set, she fired serve after serve that, if it wasn’t an ace, rattled Bandon and left the Tigers unable to get into their offense.

Tied at 12 apiece in the third set, Reedsport was able to put the game on ice with continued attacking play from the likes of Wright and sophomore Jenna Corcoran.

“We’re taking advantage of our better hitters and our outside hitters are doing better than they were in preseason. Things are getting better, we’re moving along,” said Hixenbaugh.

For Bandon, suffering its first league loss of the season, the day got off to a bad start in the pregame warmup when starting junior setter Bella Erenfeld was ruled out with a sprained finger that was injured Wednesday — and initially thought to be broken.

“I’m proud of the girls that stepped up when we changed it, and it’s not even what killed us. Our serves killed us and our passing and defense killed us,” said Bandon head coach Mariah Vierck.

Making the move from outside hitter to setter was senior Ashley Strain, who finished with 10 assists. Elsewhere on the team, junior Baylee George had 31 digs and junior Kennedy Turner recorded six kills and two blocks.

For Vierck, the loss is not worrying and she is ready to move on.

“I honestly think that we just don’t overthink this one," she said. "Don’t get in our heads from it. We come back, we get our setter back, you know, give her a weekend of rest, get her back and put our people in the positions that they are comfortable playing and keep our heads held high. We’ve got a lot of season left.”

The Tigers will be back in action next Tuesday at Waldport before hosting Coquille on Thursday.

Looking to use this victory as a springboard, Reedsport resumes play on Tuesday with a trip to Gold Beach. 

“I think it’s going to take teamwork. I think we have the tools to do it, but I think we need to work as a team and I think we need to get along with each other on the court and those are two things that we’ve been focused on,” said Hixenbaugh. “And the fundamental things: moving your feet to pass the ball and communicating with each other. All the things we’ve really focused on this year."

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Reporter Zachary Silva can be reached at 541-266-6036 or by email at zachary.silva@theworldlink.com.

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