The Mt. West League Volleyball Playoffs tipped off with the Eddyville Eagles, the 3rd seed from the Coast Division traveling to contest the McKenzie Eagles, the 2nd seed from the League’s Valley Division. That match took place last Tues., Oct. 23. An old athletic adage holds that when one gets to the post season, the team records revert to 0-0 and any team can rise up and play good ball. Indeed, that proved to hold true as Eddyville challenged McKenzie, winning the first set 25-22 and forcing the Home Eagles to prove themselves the rest of the evening. McKenzie won the next three sets to earn the match win and advance to meet Triangle Lake in the 2nd round, but it wasn’t easy and Eddyville made sure the win was legit. Head Coach Dan Brenner’s team won the 2nd set 25-22, the 3rd set 25-18, and the final set 25-16. Makaila Hiddleston supported her team’s effort with 13 kills, 8 digs, and 1 block. Teammate Peace Shepherd had a big night as well as she tallied 11 kills and 12 digs. Samantha Ace Winningham continued to exhibit offensive dominance as she served 9 aces. Ayshia Seiler and Katey Totten contributed 17 and 11 assists respectively to aid the Home Team while Shyla Harlan had 9 digs, and Sydney King earned 7 digs.
It wasn’t supposed to be a cake walk at Triangle Lake as the Eagles and the Lakers clashed in the 2nd round of the Mt. West League Playoffs last Thurs., Oct. 25. Both teams were very familiar with each other, having met once in regular League Cross Division play and again at the Triangle Lake Tournament. The Eagles prevailed on both occasions but the Laker’s standout Kianna Brown, earlier in the season hampered with a back injury, offered improved offensive and defensive hurdles for the Eagles to overcome. With a boisterous and rowdy home crowd spurring them on, Triangle Lake forced McKenzie to claw their way into the League Championships. The Eagles looked good at the start, winning the first set 25-17, but any thoughts of celebrating early proved premature. Triangle Lake aggressively rebounded taking the 2nd set 25-21, and then clobbered the reeling Eagles in the 3rd set 25-13. The Lakers, seemingly surfing a wave into the League Championships, continued to pound McKenzie, who fell behind early, but regrouped to rally behind the deft and timely serving of Shyla Harlan and a dandy play from out of the net by Ayshia Seiler to put the Eagles in position to win the set 29-27. In the 5th and deciding set, McKenzie, riding the crest of positive momentum change, won the set 15-11 and advanced to the League Championship. Leading the Eagles, Makaila Hiddleston hit 16 kills, 13 digs, and had 1 block. Peace Shepherd complemented her teammate once again with 12 kills. Samantha Winningham added 9 kills, 11 digs, and again was superb at serving with 8 aces. Katey Totten had a fine night with 23 assists, 12 digs and 2 blocks followed by Ayshia Seiler with 13 assists. Seiler also added 16 digs. Shyla Harlan led her team with 18 digs, many of those hit by T. Lake’s Brown. Senior Sydney King added 11 digs of her own.
McKenzie successfully defended its 2010 and 2011 back to back Mt. West League Championships by upsetting the #1 seed Lowell Red Devils at Junction City High School last Saturday, Oct. 27. The dramatic win snared for the Eagles the top seed out of the Mt. West League in the 2012 OSAA State Volleyball Championships and ensured that McKenzie would participate for the 5th straight year in the State post-season tournament. As the League Champion, McKenzie earned a 1st Round Bye in the OSAA State Championships and will play on Saturday, Nov. 3, with opponent and time yet to be decided. Coach Brenner’s team will find out their opponent on Thursday, Nov. 1st, morning. In the early match of the day at Junction City, and with the 3rd League seed to State on the line, Mapleton defeated Triangle Lake in 3 straight sets. Against Lowell, the Eagles had lost both earlier League meetings, the latest on Oct. 18, when a fired up Red Devil squad burned the Eagles by winning 3 sets and the match, adding insult to injury, on McKenzie Senior night. Lowell subsequently earned their berth in the League Championship Match by easily dispatching Mapleton. Both McKenzie and Lowell brought their A game on Saturday night and the fireworks ensued as both teams blistered the court with an all out effort. Having won but 1 out of the previous 6 sets, the Eagles needed to rise out of past ashes and light a fire early. And that’s exactly how Head Coach Dan Brenner’s team responded. McKenzie grabbed the lead early and although Lowell refused to lay down and made several runs at the lead, the Eagles captured the first set 25-22. McKenzie won the first point in the 2nd set just as in the 1st set, and the Eagle support contingent looked for a repeat set win. Not to be however, as the back and forth fierce battle ended with a Red Devil victory at 25-20. The Eagles regrouped in the 3rd set and won that hard fought battle 25-18. With their backs up against the wall, Lowell proved their own championship mettle by torching the Eagles with a 25-13 setback that evened the sets up at two apiece. In the 5th and deciding set to 15 pts., and a win requiring a 2 pt. differential, with the League Championship and the #1 seed to State on the line, the Eagles looked as if they would finally ice the Lowell fire, but again, not to be. The Red Devils roared back to tie up the score and put themselves in position to win the set. The Eagles finally established a positive two pt. difference and won 17-15 to repeat for the third straight season as the Mt. West League Champions.
Makaila Hiddleston had another big night on the court as she tallied 15 kills, 2 blocks, and 5 digs. Sister teammate Buggy Hiddleston added another 10 kills. Samantha Winningham, vying as the 1A State serving aces leader added 4 aces to her season total, as well as 1 block and 6 digs. Peace Shepherd and Sydney King each had 9 digs in the match to lead the Eagles. Katey Totten added 7 digs. Ayshia Seiler again led her team with 14 assists.
The Mt. West League Coaches honored five McKenzie Varsity Volleyball Athletes for their efforts this season. Selected to the Mt. West League 1st Team were the Eagle’s Senior Captain and Utility Player Sydney King and hard hitting Junior Makaila Hiddleston. King filled many positions in Coach Brenner’s game plans this past season and excelled particularly on her defensive skills, often leading her team in digs and also offensively, with assists. Hiddleston, a power hitter player, often lead her team in kills, blocks, also figured in defensively with significant digs. McKenzie was represented on the Mt. West League 2nd Team with the selection of Senior Peace Shepherd. Shepherd is a very fine all-around player, often significantly contributing both high numbers of kills and digs. Representing the Eagles on the Mt. West League Honorable Mention Team were Senior Samantha Winningham and Junior Ayshia Seiler. Winningham, one of the most underrated players in the League, is currently one of the States 1A leaders in service aces and also plays a very fine all-around game. Seiler is one of the Eagle Assists leaders and will figure prominently her senior season as she helps return the Eagles to a fourth consecutive State postseason berth. Congratulations to all the athletes on a fine season and please plan to come out and support the Eagle flight to State.
Last seasons (2011) outstanding Eagle 1A 8-man football team played host to Lowell and won a track meet, finally prevailing over the Red Devils 88-80. At the time, the combined score set a new State record for points scored in a game, along with establishing several other State and National player records. That game-score record was eclipsed earlier this season as Triad out of Klamath Falls defeated Elkton 106-66. Last Friday night, on an evening when McKenzie honored its Senior players, the Eagles played host to the Yoncalla Eagles, and for almost 3 hours, everyone in the stadium wondered if a new record would once again be set. McKenzie finally won the high flying affair by scoring 82 points and holding Yoncalla to just 80, in triple overtime. Although a new record was not established, once again the Eagle fans were treated to an evening of wide open offense.
McKenzie looked to be in control early on as they lead 34-14 at the end of the 1st Qtr. and 46-34 at the halftime break. Yoncalla made some locker room adjustments and outscored the Home Eagles 14 to 8 in the 3rd Qtr. and again 20 to 14 in the 4th Qtr. to force the 1st of the 3 overtimes. No scoring in the first overtime, led into the 2nd OT with each team scoring a touchdown and failing on the extra points. Both teams again scored one TD in the 3rd OT, but McKenzie added a successful extra point attempt to finish the game with a 2 pt. advantage. With the Mt. West League win, McKenzie (4-2) is currently in a 4 way tie for second place with Crow, Siletz, and Triangle Lake, behind perfect League leader Lowell (6-0). Both Crow and Triangle Lake hold tie-breaker advantages over the Eagles and McKenzie must face and the high flying Lowell Red Devils at Lowell in their final League game next Friday, Nov. 2. The game kicks off at 7:00 pm. Most likely for the Eagles to advance to the State playoffs for the second consecutive season they will need to defeat Lowell and hope for some help from Mapleton with a win over Crow. Against Yoncalla, McKenzie Senior Quarterback Victor Vidal passed 51 times with 24 completions, good for 244 yards, 7 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Vidal also rushed 10 times for an additional 47 yards and scored 3 touchdowns. Senior wide receiver Blake Anderson caught 13 passes on the night for 122 yards and 2 touchdowns. Fellow senior teammate Caleb Scrivner hauled 5 passes for 79 yards and 5 touchdowns. Senior Running Back Josh Ness led his team with 157 yards on the ground on 15 carries scoring 2 touchdowns. Ness also had 3 pass receptions for 20 yards. Defensively, McKenzie was led by Junior Casey Mitchell who accounted for 14 tackles, 9 solo. Ness, playing both sides of the ball all season, added 11 total tackles, also with 9 solo.