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Grizzlies cruise past Forest Grove

Chatter has been an ongoing project for the McMinnville girls volleyball team this season. Some matches, the Grizzlies keep a constant stream of communication flowing. Others, the talk dies when their chance of winning does.

“Talking is also something we haven’t been coming together a lot with,” senior Hailey Gooch said Tuesday after McMinnville’s 3-0 home-win vs. Forest Grove. “I think tonight we really stepped it up with that.”

Gooch was in the thick of it Tuesday, yelling out everything from cheers to warnings as Viking hits came over the net.

“Talking. Always talking,” Gooch said. “We need to be obnoxiously talking just about everything. How many hitters are up, blocks, where to hit, where the holes are. Everything.”

The Grizzlies (7-5) easily dispatched the Vikings on Tuesday, winning 25-15, 25-12, 25-15. Gooch had 11 kills, junior Molly Olsen had six kills, and sophomore Madison Vicknair had four kills six blocks in her first match of the season at middle blocker.

“Talking is about making sure we call out what we see out there so we are all hearing the same thing, seeing the same thing and trusting each other,” Mac coach Ben Patterson said. “We have a naturally laid back team. It’s been a challenge, but they’re doing a great job of that, and did well with it tonight.”

In Mac’s first meeting with Forest Grove, the Vikings jumped out on the Grizzlies early in each set. Mac still won the match 3-0, but it was a lot tougher than Tuesday.

“The first time we played them we started slow and got behind every single set,” Patterson said. “It was one of our goals to not get behind early, and I thought we did a really good job of jumping on them early and staying on them.”

The Grizzlies never trailed in the three sets. In the first, they jumped out to a 5-2 lead and went on a 13-2 run to go ahead 19-9. In the second set, a series of Vikings errors helped the Grizzlies move out to a 6-1 lead, and they lead 20-9 late in the set. It was much the same in the third, with Mac leading 20-11.

Mac started the second half of its Pacific Conference schedule last week with a 3-0 win vs. Newberg. With Tuesday’s win, it is the first time since the Grizzlies beat Newberg and Forest Grove to start the season that they have won two matches in a row. They have alternated wins and losses in seven of their last nine matches. Patterson said he feels as if his players are learning from the first half mistakes.

“We kind of started doing that in the last two or three matches,” Patterson said. “We’re playing a lot cleaner volleyball. Things are flowing the right way. Girls are making the right decisions and playing better as a team. They’re just doing a great job.”

The Grizzlies play Thursday at Tigard, which is a game ahead of them in the Pacific Conference standings. The Tigers are second with a 7-2 record, and Mac is third at 6-3. Mac lost in three sets Sept. 11 at home to the Tigers but played them close. Century leads the conference at 14-4, 9-0. The Jaguars beat Mac 3-0 Sept. 25, and the Grizzlies play the Jaguars again Oct. 23 at home in the final match of the regular season.

Gooch said if they could pick up wins vs. Tigard and Tualatin, the second half could go better.

“Tigard and Tualatin we can definitely get,” she said. “That would be good for us.”

Notes: Junior Dakota Buhler had three kills and four digs Tuesday. She also had one ace. … Katie Crowston had 11 digs. … Alexa Toth had 11 assists, and Montanna Gubrud had six assists, three kills and four digs.

Grizzlies cruise past Forest Grove

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