Sprague’s Most Successful Program Continues To Crush Playoff Dreams

Newberg — The wrath of the Olympians has struck again, disrupting the 6A volleyball landscape with an upset win over the Newberg Tigers, proving once again that seeding really is just a number and that Sprague’s most successful athletics program is alive and well. I called it in my predictions for the first round of 6A action, picking a Sprague team that had lost six straight entering the playoffs against a Newberg team that had won 12 straight sets entering the game. Oly Power is a real thing, and Sprague volleyball is no joke even on a losing streak that puts most teams out of consideration. Take note 6A, the Sprague Olympians can beat you, and next up is a young, talented Sherwood team that surprisingly lost a set to St. Mary’s Academy in the opening round, setting up another upset potential matchup on Saturday.

Since starting in 2011, Anne Olsen has gotten Sprague at least one playoff win in every season of her tenure except for 2015, including her height of success at the 2018 state tournament when the Olys went to the finals against Jesuit. In the last full season, her program was upset during a Cinderella run by the Canby Cougars in the second round, but now she finds her program in the spot of Canby from two years ago this season. The scariest part about this team? They only have three seniors and a loaded junior class returning next year, making whatever run they make this season even more valuable for experience. Olsen has managed to make Sprague a sustainable, consistent, rooted program, something that many cannot claim on a regular basis within the 6A landscape. She deserves every ounce of credit for this program and their achievements, just as much as the athletes that she leads into every game.

For this particular situation, I put emphasis on Sprague’s absurd tournament scheduling from this season, which certainly played a role in seasoning up this roster for the big time. The Olys have faced the likes of Nelson, Central Catholic, Clackamas, Wilsonville, and Jesuit in tournaments, not to mention their loaded Mountain Valley schedule with Bend, South Salem, McNary, and West Salem, among others. While they won few of those games, the experience gained from it is irreplaceable, and it can give you a mental sense of calmness and reasoning when you face a similar scenario later on. Newberg had played in tournaments against much lower quality opponents, and when coupled together with a two team conference, it had writing on the wall that an upset was very much a good possibility. When faced with adversity on Wednesday, Sprague calmed themselves and executed, being the ultimate decider of who went home and who moved on. This is a proof of concept when it comes to scheduling strong opponents or tournaments, that the experience is simply too valuable and irreplaceable in the long haul.

Next up for Sprague lies Sherwood, a young, talented team that has been on fire. However, just like with Newberg, their record is one that is deceiving to someone who hasn’t looked closer. Sprague has the seasoning, they have the experience, and now they have the momentum/confidence to keep going ahead. Sherwood hasn’t faced a tough opponent not named Newberg since Grant back in September, with the rest of the teams being decent or below average. Its not a discount to their talent, but it does raise concerns to their ability to rise to the occasion against a Sprague team coming off a huge win over that Newberg squad. The Olys chemistry, talent, and execution is that of a Top 10 team, complete opposite of their 10-14 record on OSAA. Sprague has crushed Newberg’s dreams, will they do the same to Sherwood and head to the quarterfinals as a #22 seed? We’ll have to wait and see, but I think Sprague would tell you they can, and they have every right to think that.

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