West Salem — It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t smooth, but the Summit Storm did what they came to do Thursday night at West Salem High School. The Lady Titans, a squad that has been up and down all conference long, pushed the Storm to their brink in the match but ultimately Summit walked away with a share of a conference championship after a two hour drive over the mountains from Bend.
Summit started sluggish, falling behind in the first set 19-12 to the Lady Titans. The Storm would put on a fierce late set run to close in 21-24, but West Salem closed it out 25-22 and picked up the opening set victory. The teams battled back and forth to open the second set, with Summit eventually gaining a 10-6 edge. Leading 13-8, West Salem went on a 3-0 run to close within 13-11 but the Storm would match them down the stretch at 17-14. Summit would put the foot on the gas for the second set, breaking open a 23-18 lead and tying the match 1-1 with a 25-18 set victory.
The Lady Titans opened the third set leading 3-0 but Summit would fight back to tie it 4-4. After some back and forth action, Summit would break open some breathing room with a 12-8 lead that exploded to 17-9. West Salem kept fighting but the Storm’s advantage was simply too much and the Storm took a 2-1 match lead with a 25-18 third set win. With a chance to win the match, Summit was in the fourth set early on trailing 4-3. Just like they did in the previous set, West Salem opened up an 8-4 and 11-7 advantage, but the Storm fought back to tie it at 13 all. After some more back and forth action, West Salem lead 18-17 and opened up a 20-17 lead that would stand with a 25-21 fourth set win, forcing a rubber match fifth set between the teams.
With the news of Sprague’s win over Bend, which gave Sprague a share of the Mountain Valley Conference title, a Summit loss meant the Storm would be shut out of the conference title party. That pressure helped motivate the Storm, who “came out with fire” after the pre set huddle, and absolutely laid down the hammer taking a 6-1 lead. The Storm never really had any issues against a worn out Lady Titans team, holding leads of 9-1 and 13-2 on their way to a smooth 15-6 fifth set win and clinch of a partial conference championship with the Sprague Olympians. Facing a long trip back to Bend, Summit’s Kate Doorn and Harper Justema talked about the Storm’s conference title and the playoff road ahead for Summit.
Kate Doorn on grabbing the conference title, “Its so exciting, honestly. We knew we could do it, it was our goal to do it and we got it, we’re just so proud of ourselves.” Harper Justema, “Its just so nice, we worked so hard to get here. We have a bunch of new players this year and one of our starters was out, and we still showed up and beat the other team. We worked so hard and its just so nice to get back to back championships.”
Harper Justema on going deep in the playoffs, “We’re going to have to figure out how not to glitch and how to work together, and that starts with starting strong and playing well on the road. We need to practice hard like we did for the state championships and just go from there.” Kate Doorn, “Stay together as a team, stay aggressive, and come out with tons of energy.”