There were two key factors at work in Thursday's Clackamas-Central Catholic volleyball match at Clackamas High School.
First, Central Catholic senior middle blocker Mia Jordan and senior outside hitter Marianna Payne put on an incredible display of power at the net.
Secondly, the Rams were a terror at the service line, consistently forcing Clackamas out of system with no room to turn.
The net result was a 25-9, 25-9, 25-14 Central Catholic victory that left the Rams as the only undefeated team in the league at 6-0, while the Cavaliers fell to 5-1.
"We came into this game knowing Clackamas always plays their best against us, so we came ready to shut them down, no matter what," Rams senior libero Ava Bruins said. "We got behind at times, but we stuck to playing our game and came away with the win."
Clackamas had a handful of shining moments, but they were few and far between.
"We had fits and starts, but that was tough," Cavaliers coach Lisa McBee said. "With Central Catholic, I always say you have to play and play and play until the referee blows the whistle, because the ball is almost always going to come back.
"They work hard and they will push and push and push, and you have to be able to stay on the court and outwork them. And that's really one of the biggest things about actually competing with a team like Central Catholic."
The Rams got to some balls that they had no right getting to, and in some cases, the ball not only came back over the net, but came back with some mustard on it, too.
"When you play teams like that, you can't wish the play to stop," McBee said. "You have to be prepared to actually continue to play and move forward and then 'flush and forget,' as we say, and move on to the next point."
Clackamas jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the first set before Central Catholic went on a 17-2 run that saw the Rams use their serve to throw the Cavaliers off balance, setting the tone for the rest of the match.
In the second set, Central Catholic raced out to a 15-4 lead and then maintained at least a 10-point cushion in that game.
There were three lead changes and seven ties before the Rams went on a 13-2 run to close out the match.
"I expected Clackamas to give us more of a run, but they broke down in serve-receive," Rams coach Rick Lorenz said. "I told the girls, 'If you just put the ball where I want it, this could be an easy night.'
"It was much easier than I thought. Nothing against Clackamas, but if you can't serve-receive, you can't attack."
McBee chalked it up as "one of those nights" when the Cavaliers struggled to generate any momentum.
"When you're out of system like that, it's tough," McBee said. "Most everyone here has seen us play when we've been incredibly in system with serve-receive against some pretty tough servers.
"Tonight, the girls were just really struggling and no matter what we tried to change or what we were trying to do, our serve-receive was just not where we needed it to be. That's the sport."
The Cavaliers also were taking on a senior-laden Central Catholic team that Lorenz says ranks right up there with some of the best Rams teams in recent years, including the 2009-11 teams led by Martenne Bettendorf.
"This team is right there," Lorenz said. "I love our defense, I love our setting, and once our hitting and blocking clicks a little bit better, I think we're right in there with anybody.
"We lost to Jesuit 19-17 in the third set, and we had six match points but couldn't do it. And then we beat Mountainside, Sprague, and Sheldon, so we know we can play. We've just got to keep getting better and stay injury-free."
Central Catholic was scheduled to close out the first half of league play on Tuesday at David Douglas, while Clackamas had a Tuesday home match against Gresham.
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