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The Taft 7-12 volleyball team is looking to get back to the basics after a tough game last week against Willamina.

Coming off a pair of wins against Clatskanie and Rainier, the Lady Tigers had a restful week before facing Willamina on Oct. 3. Although they had confidence heading into the contest, the young Tiger team was quickly rattled by a more experienced Bulldog team.

“It was disappointing because we really beat ourselves,” head coach Kelsey Hart said. “We didn't execute the skills that we have been excelling at this season so far. We had a major passing breakdown, couldn't get the ball to our hitters, and when we did get them the ball, we had way too many hitting errors. Overall, we just had a total breakdown.”

Although Taft played Willamina close in the first set, losing 25-22, they had a bit of a lapse in set number two, losing 25-9. In an attempt to muster up an extended match, the Tigers fell just short in the third and final set, losing 25-21 and dropping a 3-0 decision.

This week, Hart said they are working on more of the fundamentals as they prepare for Warrenton and Rainier.

“We've gone back to basics; focusing on individual skills and how to execute them under pressure,” Hart said. “The girls are working really hard, and I think we'll be in a much better place for our games this week.”

After Tonight's game against Warrenton, Taft will welcome Rainier to Lincoln City on Thursday, Oct. 10.

After taking Warrenton to five sets last time the two teams met, Hart is expecting another close match against the Warriors.

"I'm expecting the Warrenton game to be a battle tonight," Hart said. "We're better than we were at the beginning of the season, but Warrenton knows we're coming to win tonight, so I think they're going to be preparing for a fight as well."

After beating the Columbians 3-0 in the last contest, Hart said the game will be a bit of a question mark for them.

“We struggled against them last year, and they're not a bad team,” Hart said. “We need to focus on coming out confident in our skills and ability to win, but not get cocky and underestimate this Rainier team. I'm hopeful for another win against them, especially if we can get a great home crowd to cheer us on.”

Before the week started, Taft sits at 3-9 overall and 2-2 in league play. With the top two spots in the league advancing to the State Playoffs, Taft’s league this season is pretty wide open.

“We definitely have the ability to finish the season out in one of the top two spots, if we can execute when we need to,” Hart said about their chances going forward. “It's going to come down to which teams can make the fewest errors during their games. We've been working this week on scramble balls and executing attacks more often to keep other teams on their toes.

“If we can execute in our matches the way we have in practice recently, I think we have a good shot. But it's definitely going to be a battle.”

Now past the midway point in the season, Hart said she has been impressed by the shear talent she has on this year’s team. But aside from the individual skill set, Hart said their desire to get better is what will bode well for the volleyball program going forward.

“They work well as a group, and support each other on the court,” Hart said. “We've worked on some communication drills lately, which is one of the things that hurt us in Willamina. When the girls communicate well, we play really well and have much better results. If we can keep up the communication, we're going to be in a very good place.”

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