The sophomore volleyball players suited up for their last match of their Lane Community College career on Nov. 8. After an emotional introduction, the Titans were ready to play in front of a loud home crowd.
The game quickly got underway with a solo block by Naomi Ricketts and a kill by fellow sophomore Morgan Newton. Christa Todd recorded her first kill to end the play after a lengthy rally kept alive by the Linn-Benton Roadrunners. Todd then helped keep the Titans alive on a dig, giving them the lead. Kelsey Lane had back-to-back kills that helped trim the Linn-Benton lead to just three. Linn-Benton extended the lead to six, prompting a Lane timeout after which Baylee Kuschel got a kill from sophomore teammate Morgan Newton.
The Titans weren’t going to give up that easy on sophomore night. Alli Fuller was able to fake out the Linn-Benton front line and pull the Titans within nine. That was the closest they came to a comeback, as Linn-Benton pushed their lead back to nine after a kill from Jenaya Wright. Linn-Benton eventually took the first set by a score of 25-17.
Head coach Stephanie Willett made subs in hope of a second set spark from the bench players. It seemed to work as Lane held the lead early. Linn-Benton caught up to Lane’s quick start as their lead grew to four. That would be their biggest lead of the set, as Lane never went down more than four at any point during the set. Later in the set, a four-point run by the Titans tied the score at 14-14. The two teams took turns scoring until the score was 18-18, and then Lane took over, scoring three straight points and winning the set by a score of 26-24.
After a brief intermission, the restless crowd cheered on their Titans as the third set got underway. Arguably the most important set for both teams, the coaches took an extra second to prepare their players. Linn-Benton always seemed to know exactly where the Titans weren’t. The Roadrunners outscored the Titans 9-5 in the beginning. They only built on that momentum, at one point leading the Titans by a score of 14-7. Coach Willett called a timeout to regroup her girls and hopefully make a comeback. The Titans were within five, before the Roadrunners ran the scoreboard and eventually the set. The Roadrunners won their second set of the night 25-19.
One set away from their season ending, the Titans came onto the court knowing they had nothing to lose. Leading most of the set the Titans seemed in control yet the experienced Linn-Benton team overcame the deficit and beat the Titans in four sets.
“We played really well, especially compared to how bad we played them last year,” commented Fuller. Fuller recorded a season-high 24 assists in her last game wearing a Lane Titans jersey.
After winning only two matches last year, the team and coaching staff were very proud of the players who were willing to come back for their persistence.
“Amazing. They played like they wanted it, and it was their best match of the season in the Southern region,” Willett said.
The Titans finished the season with a record of 19 wins and 20 losses. A sour end to a very sweet comeback season for the Lane Titans volleyball team.