Salem — The Salem Academy Crusaders entered Saturday on fire, having gone undefeated since losing to #1 Santiam Christian 3-2 in a tournament on October 12th. They were looking to make it back to the state tournament for a third straight year, where they had been tripped up against Vale and Blanchet Catholic, but went on to win the consolation brackets each season. As for Willamina, they were back in the state playoffs after missing it last season.
Just like the title says, the Salem Academy made quick work of Willamina, with the entire match taking just an hour or so and it all started in the opening set. The Crusaders led 3-1 early, blowing it open to 7-3, 11-6, and 17-7 as they took advantage of a Bulldog team unable to stop them defensively. They finished them off 25-11 to win the first set. The second set went a similar way, with the Crusaders seizing the lead 4-1 before breaking away with leads of 9-1, 12-2, 15-4, and 17-8. They made it clear it was hammer time, as they rolled Willamina 25-9 in the second set. In the final set, they once again gained control 5-2, with leads of 10-2 and 12-5, eventually closing out a sweep 25-11, 25-9, 25-13 in a game headlined by a rash of Willamina unforced errors and Salem Academy kills. Hardly breaking a sweat and not really needing to catch their breath, Crusaders Chloe Baker, Peyton Donaldson, and Hannah Warde all talked about the victory and the path moving forward for the Salem Academy.
Chloe Baker on the team success against Willamina, “We’ve been really working hard on the small details, making sure that we keep our serving errors and hitting errors to a minimum, and keeping each other accountable. Making sure that every pass is the best pass possible because that kind of stuff makes into the bigger stuff.’
Peyton Donaldson on the key to winning the state championship, “Teamwork and staying on top of things the entire time, not letting up at all and creating the energy for each game.”
Hannah Warde on how to defeat undefeated Santiam Christian, “We’ve got to stay calm and confident, but not cocky. Staying away from errors on our serves and unforced errors, just be prepared and take it one step at a time.”