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Country Christian answers the challenge in top-10 battle


The Cougars overcome a third-set letdown to knock off No. 9 Portland Lutheran

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: DAVID BALL - Country Christians Audrey Barden swings through on a kill attempt out of the middle during Saturdays four-set win over Portland Lutheran.Portland Lutheran appeared to turn the tide only to have Country Christian splash its hopes, as the Cougars took a four-set win in Saturday’s clash between top-10 volleyball teams.

The No. 4-ranked Cougars claimed the first two tightly contested sets only to see No. 9 Portland Lutheran hit its stride with a convincing 25-13 win in the third set. Kiana MacPherson used her jump serve to reel off three quick points at the start of the set and the lead quickly mushroomed when Kaitlin Howard blasted a kill through the arms of Country’s Miranda Halverson. The two tallest players on the court went head-to-head throughout the 90-minute match.

MacPherson closed out the set with a powerful attack that pin-balled off a pair of Cougars in the backcourt before falling to the floor.

The match appeared ready to go the distance after Portland Lutheran sprinted to a 12-6 lead in the fourth set, but that’s when Country said enough.

Ashley LaPointe connected on back-to-back aces to tie the score 13-13, and the teams would go on to trade the lead five times.

Country moved ahead to stay when Audrey Barden swiped at a ball on the left side and it carried across the front row and found and empty spot near the far sideline.

Several points later, the heavy hitters from each side exchanged a volley of back-row attacks. This time it was Halverson, who got one to drop to bring up match point at 24-23.

In a flash it was over on an ace by Barden.

The Cougars played with a lead throughout the first set, stretching it to a seven-point gap in the late stages on solid serving by Kennedy Nofziger.

Country protected a slim lead through most of the second set, coming up with the answer each time the Blue Jays pulled even. The Cougars pulled away late in the set

when Halvorson sent a kill into the back corner and LaPointe drilled a service ace.

Halvorson converted match point with a kill into the back that saw two Blue Jays step away, as the ball clipped the end line.

Country opened the day’s doubleheader with a 25-8, 25-18, 25-10 sweep over Western Mennonite.

View a photo gallery from the match at daveball.exposuremanager.com.