Wilsonville — The energy was intense, a complete Penn State style whiteout mesmerized the entire atmosphere for the rivalry showdown between #5 Wilsonville and #2 La Salle Prep on Wednesday evening in Wildcat Country. Their supporters created an intimidating environment for the second ranked Falcons, who entered with huge confidence and momentum from their weekend dub over previously undefeated 6A contender Bend at the South Albany State Preview. Its been branded as the best rivalry in 5A volleyball, and they certainly lived to that hype and then some.
The Wildcats blew open the game with considerable force, drilling four consecutive aces and six points overall to open the match with a 6-0 advantage. Wilsonville would eventually extend it to 11-3, forcing a Falcons timeout. After their huddle, La Salle Prep would charge back to shrink the lead to 14-9 and eventually 15-13, making the Wildcats regroup with a timeout. Wilsonville would go on a 4-0 run out of the timeout, seizing a 19-13 advantage and eventually securing a 25-19 opening set win over La Salle Prep.
La Salle Prep started the second set better, playing tug of war to an eventual 9-7 Wilsonville advantage. La Salle went on a 4-0 run to take the lead 11-9, forcing a Wildcat timeout. The powers battled to a tied 18-18 effort until La Salle took the lead once again 20-18. The Falcons never looked back, taking the set 25-22 and holding off a fierce Wilsonville charge. La Salle maintained their momentum, seizing an 8-3 advantage in the fourth set before Wilsonville climbed back to within a 12-10 score. La Salle pulled away again, leading 17-12 before the Wildcats fought back to 19-15. However, it was simply not enough to slow the Falcons roll, as they took a 2-1 match lead with a 25-17 set win.
Wilsonville refused to go down however, jumping out to an 8-1 lead in the fourth set. There wasn’t much stopping or slowing the Wildcats, as they blasted La Salle Prep with a 25-15 set win to force a final duel in a fifth set showdown. This one was a war, kicking off dead even with a 4-4 game, with Wilsonville getting on a roll and taking a sizable 9-5 lead and forcing a Falcon regroup. It worked its magic for La Salle Prep, as they stormed back to force an 11-11 tie in a first to 15 final set. However, the atmosphere and momentum was simply too much to overcome, as Wilsonville closed them out 15-12 and pulled off a hard fought dub over #2 La Salle Prep, avenging their earlier loss to the Falcons on the road.
Wilsonville: After a surprising exit to Mountainside this weekend, it was a much needed boost to the Wildcats entering the final month and change of the season. Their talent is indisputable, the chemistry is extremely clear, and they can compete with whoever they want to on any given night. They might have hit some hiccups, but never count out the fifth ranked Wildcats in any 5A state title conversation.
La Salle Prep: They were dealt a tough hand and intimidating environment, they gave it their all and ultimately fell short. Had they started better in the first and fourth sets, they very well could’ve won this match without needing a fifth set, but nonetheless nothing is to be ashamed of in losing on the road in Wilsonville. The Falcons are right there with West Albany, Crescent Valley, and others, nothing has changed after Wednesday night.