JONATHAN VILLAGOMEZ - Prior to the game, the volleyball program honored seniors Kendall John and Bianca Valenzuela.
This was one win the Huskies had to have.
Entering the final stretch of the regular season, the North Marion and Stayton volleyball teams were tied for third place in the Oregon West Conference with identical 4-4 records in league play. Each team was fighting for the third and final state playoff berth awarded to the conference, but the Eagles had a leg up on the Huskies, having won their previous match in September.
The two teams met for a rematch at North Marion High School on Oct. 11 in what was essentially an elimination game for the Huskies. In front of a raucous crowd at home on senior night , the Huskies went out and pulled off their biggest victory of the season to date, winning a hard fought 3-2 games by a score of 15-25, 25-20, 25-16, 17-25, 15-10.
“We are definitely hoping for a post season spot, and our win last night helps our chances a lot,” North Marion head coach Alexa Powell said.
The win was crucial in preserving North Marion’s playoff chances for several reasons. With one game remaining in the regular season, the Huskies (12-9, 5-4 Oregon West Conference) move one game ahead of the Eagles (9-11, 4-5 OWC) for third place in the conference standings.
That is particularly important based on the final games that each team must play.
The Eagles were slated on Tuesday to wrap up against a Newport (4-14, 1-8 OWC) team, which has just one league win this season against Yamhill-Carlton, currently the lowest-ranked team by the OSAA rankings.
Meanwhile, North Marion was scheduled to end the season on Tuesday against the league-leading No. 9 Cascade Cougars (14-4, 8-1 OWC), a team that the Huskies have failed to beat in five attempts since entering the Oregon West Conference more than two years ago.
The Huskies would punch their playoff ticket with either a win over the Cougars or a loss by the Eagles, but if the two teams finish the season tied for third place, North Marion’s win over Stayton last week becomes particularly crucial.
“It would come down to ranking,” Powell said.
JONATHAN VILLAGOMEZ - North Marion sophomore Emily Scanlan
rises for a kill in the Huskies' 3-2 victory over Stayton on Oct. 11.
Having split the season series, the tie-breaker would be determined by the OSAA’s ranking system, which averages the Rating Percentage Index (RPI) system with the Colley Bias Free Rating Method (Colley) for its rankings.
The two rankings take into account the record a team has, the record of its opponents and the record of its opponents’ opponents, home wins, and away wins, creating a relatively difficult algorithm to predict.
Currently, North Marion is ranked 24th with an average of 454.07, while Stayton is 25th with an average of 442.23.
The question is, would a loss against a highly ranked team be worth more than a win against an inferior opponent?
“The math is in our favor on Tuesday,” Powell said. “Even if Stayton wins and we lose, our rankings would change only minimally, and hopefully not enough to change our overall standing. We won’t know for sure until all the games are played and the rankings are solidified.”
Of course the simplest measure for the Huskies would be to simply settle the issue on the court. Beating Cascade would put the Huskies in the playoffs on a strong note and avoid letting the computers decide which team is fit to enter the postseason.
Story by Phil Hawkins, Woodburn Independent. CLICK HERE for story.