After a strong end-of-season run, the Titans head into the Northwest Athletic Conference Volleyball Championships as the third seed in the South Region.
The Titans pulled through in clutch situations throughout the end of October, building a four-game win streak against conference foes Clark, Mt. Hood, Southwest Oregon and Umpqua to clinch the final playoff spot in the region.
The end-of-season streak didn’t come easily. The Titans were pushed to five sets twice, including a tense and gritty victory against the SW Oregon Racoons at home on Nov. 2. On Sophomore Night, co-captain Stacia Panther once again led the Titans on defense, diving all over the court to record 36 digs. During one volley in the final set, Panther hit the hardwood three times in under 30 seconds before a thunderous spike from Meagan Briggs won the point and effectively solidified a Titan win.
After the victory against SW Oregon, the Titans honored the team’s five sophomores – Avery Brookshire, Panther, Christa Todd, Shelby Dubay and Kaitlin Hampton – with a ceremony highlighting their accomplishments. The players were handed bouquets of flowers and armloads of gifts – including a live hamster given to Todd – and became visibly emotional as head coach Stephanie Willett spoke fondly of her time with the players.
With the sophomores on the way out, several Titan freshmen stepped up at the end of the season, helping win a crucial away game against the Umpqua Riverhawks. The trio of Briggs, Kennedy James and Hannah Hayes combined for 35 kills against the Riverhawks, including two crucial spikes at the end of the final set to halt an Umpqua comeback.
After their loss to Linn-Benton in the regular season finale, Lane finished with a 9-4 conference record, only one game behind Chemeketa for second place. Panther ended her final regular season at Lane ranked second in the conference in digs – recording 570 digs in 36 matches this season.
The Titans look to carry their strong regular season finish straight into the NWAC Championships, where they’ll face the Walla Walla Warriors in the first round. The Warriors defeated the Titans in straight sets earlier this season during a tournament in Walla Walla, WA.
The NWAC Championships are being hosted by Pierce College in Tacoma, WA from Nov. 15-18. Live coverage of all matches will be broadcast on the NWAC website.