It’s no secret when Umpqua Community College fans are in the gym. Known for being loud and enthusiastic, their noise was muffled by the Titans volleyballers Saturday night. “We knew we wanted to sweep them,” said sophomore Evelyn Montoya after the Titans raced past the Umpqua Riverhawks to even their conference record at three wins, three losses. Kyrie Keffer, of Umpqua, in recent weeks has won multiple Southern Region Defensive Player of the Week awards, as well as having an Northwest Athletic Conference Player of the Week honor under her belt.
“I’ve watched film and we have to know where she is on the court.” said Lane Head Coach Stephanie Willett on Keffer’s impact. “But if we play our game, I like our chances.”
A few miscommunications cost the Titans early, but they quickly got back on track, taking a 7-3 lead. After going back and forth with Umpqua, the Titans never trailed in the first set. Back-to-back digs by Lane’s Christina Todd helped them stay in front of the Riverhawks. Umpqua called a timeout to try to curb the Titans’ momentum, but it only proved costly as the Titans’ lead ballooned to 22-15. Only three errors in the first set helped the Titans fight off the Riverhawks by a score of 25-17.
Two huge blocks by teammates Evelyn Montoya and Naomi Ricketts secured Lane the first point of the second set. That lead was short lived, as Umpqua scored the next four points. No team scored more than three straight points for the remainder of the set as the close match built steam. The Riverhawks’ Dominique Wenzler-Steves was causing problems for the Titans all night, scoring a game high 11 kills, and Evelyn Montoya led the Titans in total kills with nine. Near the end of the set, Lane’s Kayla Akiona scored a crucial ace to put the Titans up 23-21, and in position to ultimately win the set. Though Umpqua has a reputation as a very “vocal” team, they suffered a surprising amount of communication errors.
Lanes’ Shelby Dubay, both made the save and scored to give the Titans an early 6-1 leading into the third set. The Umpqua head coach was forced to call a timeout after Lane was starting to gain momentum, running the score up to 8-2. Arguably, the biggest move of the game happened when Lane Coach Willett substituted in Kaitlin Hampton. The freshman Hampton provided the Titans with a much needed shot of energy midway through the third set. She managed to get five kills and three digs, but what she did won’t get recorded on the stat sheet. Her presence lifted the Titans to their third conference victory over the Umpqua Riverhawks, beating them 25-17, 25-23, and 25-20 in respective sets.
Lane is now within one game of being tied with Mt. Hood CC for the fourth spot in the Southern Region. Lane’s next home game is against the Clackamas Cougars on Oct. 13.