Once the playoff anxiety wore off, the West Albany High volleyball team turned in one of its most dominant performances of the season.
The 11th-seeded Bulldogs rode a balanced offensive attack to sweep No. 22 Grant at home in Wednesday’s opening round of the 6A state playoffs. Set scores were 25-12, 25-15, 25-10.
“I thought the girls had a very focused warmup and came out here ready and determined, wanting to move on to the next round,” said West coach Kelli Backer, who did notice some early nervousness from her team. “It’s the first time in the playoffs for most of them and there were definitely the first-round jitters. But I think we were able to shake it off.”
Junior Taylor Tedrow had nine kills and two blocks to pace the Bulldogs (20-6), who will face Greater Valley Conference rival Sprague, seeded sixth, in Saturday’s round of 16. The winner advances to the 6A state tournament in Hillsboro.
Bailey Backer compiled a team-high 14 assists while Sydney Backer and Lindsey Stewart had 13 digs apiece. Alexis Chapman collected three blocks.
“Once we got together, we were able to get going,” senior Jacquelyn Clark said. “I think that every time the ball came to us, we were ready to put it down.”
After a sloppy start for both teams, a Tedrow kill put West up 4-3 in the opening set. The Bulldogs quickly began to pull away, extending their lead to 12-5 on a Chapman stuff block.
Consecutive kills from Madison Dowell and Clark made it 18-8 as West closed out an easy victory.
The momentum carried over to the second set as a powerful Tedrow spike gave the hosts an early 6-3 lead. Following a 3-0 Generals (13-8) run that cut it to 7-6, West regained control at 13-6 behind kills from Tiffany Forrest and Chapman, an Emma Parker ace and multiple Grant errors.
Another Chapman kill and attack error left West up 19-9, prompting the Generals to take a timeout.
“We were very balanced,” Kelli Backer said. “Every kid that was on the court tonight contributed, and that’s what we like to see. It’s a team effort and that’s kind of been our motto. I was proud of them for good energy on the court and good energy on the bench.”
With Stewart serving, the Bulldogs scored the first seven points of the final set. Stewart had just one ace during the run but kept Grant guessing with pin-point accuracy.
The Generals would never recover, falling behind 12-2 as their season faded away.
GVC champion Sprague, which swept No. 27 Tualatin on Wednesday night, needed five sets to defeat West in both conference matches. The Bulldogs earned a 2-0 victory over the Olympians at the Central Catholic Tournament.
“We have to go to their gym and that’s a tough place to play,” Kelli Backer said. “They are similar to us in that they don’t have a whole lot of height, they hustle and they work hard. We obviously have a little motivation because they stole two matches off of us that went five, so we are hoping we can go pay them back.”
Added Clark: “We may have lost to them a couple times, but this time we are not going to let it happen.”
The Bulldogs haven’t been to the state tournament since 2014.
Earlier in the week, Bailey Backer, Sydney Backer and Clark were voted first-team all-GVC. Chapman made the second team and Stewart received honorable mention.