SISTERS — From the shortened schedule, to an atypical postseason, to no fans in the stands, the volleyball season played last spring at times did not feel real.
What did feel real for Sisters was the pain of coming up one match short of a state title.
“I’m still a little bitter about it,” said Sisters senior outside hitter and Sacramento State volleyball commit, Greta Davis.
It would take five months, but Sisters would get its revenge over Sweet Home, which beat the Outlaws in the modified Class 4A state championship in four sets this past April.
Not only did the Outlaws beat the Huskies Tuesday night in a rematch of the title contest, but they took it to the defending champs, winning convincingly in three sets (25-13, 25-20, 25-10) to remain unbeaten in non-tournament play.
“It was nice to have a little bit of redemption,” said Sisters coach Rory Rush. “We knew that they were going to be a different team. While we lost a large group, we had a lot of returners with some heavy hitters. It was exciting to get everyone in and feel like we were in control the whole time.”
Aside from a brief scare late in the second set when Sweet Home came roaring back to bring the score to 23-20 after trailing 19-10, the match was all Outlaws.
Bre White, who is new to the team after transferring for her senior year from Spokane, Washington, heard all about the Sweet Home-Sisters rivalry. She was told to be ready for a scrappy team that knows how to win. Since 2014, Sisters and/or Sweet Home have reached the state championship match on six occasions.
“It was good to hear from their experience and then put it into a winning effort,” White said.
From the superb passing of seniors Maddie Pollard and Mia Monaghan, to the all-around play of Davis, to a team-effort in serving that caused dissension for the Huskies’ offense, the Outlaws believe they tapped into something special Tuesday night.
“We haven’t played many games,” Davis said. “So we are still finding our offense and our groove, which has been kind of hard the last two weeks. But I think we found it tonight.”
While Sweet Home lost eight seniors from last year’s championship squad, Sisters is fielding a team that looks far different from previous years, with only three players that saw meaningful playing time during its run to the state title match.
But the strength of the Sisters team that returned this fall just might be its depth.
“We can make subs, we can mess with different lineups and if something isn’t working we can put someone else in and try something new,” Rush said. “We just have depth … good depth of hitters, a lot of good passers.”
The Outlaws’ season is not even two weeks old and they are already proving a point — they want a state title.
So far, everything is going according to plan. In two nonleague matches, Sisters took down Crook County and Ridgeview — two 5A teams expected to be in the playoffs — and defeated 6A Mountain View in a tournament match.
“They want to win,” Rush said.
“But if we don’t take care of small goals and the small steps, then we won’t reach the end game.
“We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, we have to continue to take care of business. And so far we have been able to do that.”