FOREST GROVE — A dream season came to a tough end on Saturday for Sweet Home High.
Top-ranked Valley Catholic edged the No. 3 Huskies 25-23, 25-23, 25-17 in the 3A state volleyball championship at Forest Grove High.
Junior Bailee Hartsook had 11 kills and 21 digs en route to her team's player of the match and all-tournament first-team recognition for Sweet Home.
Senior Allison Miner and junior Graci Zanona added 11 digs apiece for the Huskies (21-3), who landed a spot in the state finals for the third time in school history. Sweet Home also made championship appearances in 1988 and 1992.
"I'm very happy for them," fifth-year coach Mary Hutchins said. "They worked so hard all season. I know they are really disappointed, but I'm so proud of them."
It was a repeat win for the Valiants (26-3), who were paced by Maddie Klopcic's 11 kills.
The match was up for grabs the first two sets.
"I think some nerves got to a couple of them and they didn't play the way they had played most of the tournament," said Hutchins, whose team claimed fifth at state last year. "So we kind of had to work around that a little bit and get some of our nerves out. I think there were people who stepped up to fill in those gaps. That was really nice."
Junior Savannah Hutchins chipped in 31 assists, junior Shelbey Nichol had nine kills and junior Teja Abbott added six kills and eight digs for the Huskies.
Nichol was a first-team all-tournament pick, while Zanona and Hutchins made the second team.
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Allie Merz went for 26 assists and seven digs and Zoey VanVleet 16 digs for the Valiants, who jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the final set.
Valley Catholic beat the Huskies, 2-1, at the Sisters Tournament on Sept. 21. Sweet Home earned the first set before the Valiants rallied that time.
"We just needed to game up," Zanona said of Saturday's meeting. "There were a couple game changers (in the match)."
Sweet Home's only other loss was at Sisters on Oct. 21.
"I definitely feel like our fight never left," Hutchins said. "It was not the way they wanted to end. They wanted to finish strong and win. They have a hard time not reaching the final goal because they are such competitors. ... We were right there, we just couldn't quite finish."
Third-seeded Sweet Home moved on with a 25-14, 25-16, 25-13 semifinal victory over No. 10 Philomath.
The Valiants earned a spot in Saturday’s final with a 25-10, 25-15, 25-17 win over fourth-seeded Junction City in the semifinals.
Zanona hopes to be back for one last shot at the crown.
"I feel like we should be in the same place next year," she said. "Here again, and hopefully winning it all. That is what I want to do."