TRI CITY — The South Umpqua volleyball team wasn’t going to be denied on its home court on Saturday afternoon.
The fifth-seeded Lancers advanced to the Class 3A state tournament for the second consecutive year with a victory over No. 12 Oregon Episcopal of Portland in straight sets in a playoff match.
Scores were 25-17, 25-20, 25-17.
South Umpqua (18-7) advances to a quarterfinal contest against No. 13 Vale (15-11) at 1:15 p.m. on Friday at Forest Grove High School.
The Vikings, who won the Eastern Oregon League title during the regular season, eliminated No. 4 Catlin Gabel 25-21, 18-25, 25-20, 25-22 on Saturday.
“I’m excited, kind of nervous. But it’s a good nervous excitement,” South Umpqua senior setter Tori Lind said. “We definitely came to play today and I’m glad we won in three because we usually go to four. I just hope we can bring our intensity to the rest of the matches (at the state tournament).”
Senior Carlotta Davoli, an exchange student from Italy who’s playing with the Lancers this season, was savoring the moment.
“It’s so funny, I’m so excited,” she said. “This is my first year in America, so it’s a good experience. It makes my year better and more happy. I like this team and it’s very exciting.”
Davoli scored the final point at the net in the first set, and the Lancers were on their way. Oregon Episcopal (17-7) made a run in the second game and closed within 15-14, but South Umpqua was able to pull away from from there.
The Lancers shot out to a 10-point advantage in the third set and put an end to the Aardvarks’ season.
“I think we’re pretty tough at home. We haven’t lost here very often in the last couple of years,” S.U. coach Sarah Gray said. “The girls were prepared today and came here ready to fight for it.
“Everybody played the net well and our passing was good, and we didn’t have a lot of bad serve receive like we’ve had in the past.”
Jenna Whitmore finished with 11 kills, eight digs and two aces for South Umpqua.
Shalyn Gray had 18 digs and seven kills, Lind made 19 assists, Ellery Smith contributed four kills, five digs and four aces, Davoli chipped in three kills and freshman Amaya Slay added three kills and six digs in the win.
“We played really well,” Lind said. “We played the whole match and showed up every point. It was nice having the home crowd on both sides (of the gym). We were surrounded by people we love and who love us.”
“There was a lot pressure (coming in), but with my teammates we’re really close and support each other,” Davoli said. “It wasn’t that bad.”
South Umpqua and Vale will be joined at the state tournament by No. 8 Sutherlin, No. 1 Santiam Christian, No. 6 Burns, No. 3 Creswell, No. 7 Horizon Christian of Tualatin and No. 2 Salem Academy.