Some eight days ago, four teams were tied atop the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League volleyball standings.
It is down to one now.
Lauren Harris and Cassie Bailie were key all Tuesday night, even more so during a pressure-packed sequence in the second game, leading Camas to a sweep over Union. Camas won 25-23, 25-22, 25-15.
Camas improved to 6-1 in the 4A GSHL, moving into sole possession of first place with three matches to play. Union fell to 5-2 — both losses suffered against the Papermakers.
“We’re always prepared to go to five games, but we always want to kill it in the first three,” Harris said.
They accomplished this by never wavering after a mad rush by the Titans in the second game.
Union had scored seven points in a row to take an 18-16 advantage, but Bailie responded with kills on Camas’ next three points.
The game was tied at 18, 19, 20, 21, and 22 before the Papermakers took the last three points for the 2-0 lead.
During this stretch, there were 16 consecutive points scored without a hitting error.
It was all kills, aces, or blocks for both teams playing at a high performance.
Harris had three consecutive kills for Camas points, the last giving the Papermakers a 23-22 edge.
“Cassie is a great leader, and Lauren is such a smart player,” Camas coach Julie Nidick said.
Harris (16 kills) and Bailie (10 kills) agreed that while it turned into a 3-0 victory and the third game had no drama, this sure did not feel like a sweep.
“We knew it was going to be an even match,” Bailie said. “We had to be ready for anything. We always have to have our guards up. You honestly never know.”
Union’s Megan LaFond almost willed the Titans to the win in that second game, with nine kills and a block. LaFond finished with 18 kills and 10 digs.
Camas, though, would have none of it.
“I think it’s so great when we’re under that much pressure and we come out on top,” Harris said. “It shows how great a team we are and how well we play together.”
The first game was close, too.
Camas took a five-point lead at 15-10, but Union would not go away. The Titans pulled to within a point three times, including at 24-23. Harris, though, ended the game with a kill.
“Our team was ready for the challenge,” Harris said. “I was confident we would rise to the level we know how to play.”
Camas jumped out to a 9-3 lead in the third game and it never got close.
The match was played before hundreds of fans, cheering for rival schools with first place on the line.
“It was pretty great,” Bailie said of seeing so many Camas students and parents in the Union gym. “It really helps us when everyone has our back.”
Special note: It was not a total loss for Union on this day. It was announced before the match that Union coach Tove Papenfuse gave birth to a baby boy Tuesday morning. Assistant coach Nichelle Bethune is the interim head coach.