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Kelso volleyball coach Ari VanHorn was trying to keep her exterior calm, and at time, freaking out.

The Lassies pulled out a Greater St Helens 3A League win with a sweep of the Mountain View Thunder Monday in Kelso, 26-24, 25-22, 25-21. It came by celebrating the small victories and remaining as consistent as possible.

“We’ve really been working on the mental side of the game,” VanHorn said. “When teams get two or three point runs on us, we try to not let that affect our energy. And I think that was what the huge thing was, you never saw us freak out.”

Kelso led for much of the opening set, but MV rallied late and made them sweat. At 24-24, the Lassies displayed their grit by scoring two quick points and slamming the door on an early defeat.

“This was probably the hardest or second hardest match of the whole season just knowing when to let go of the mistakes. It was mostly just getting into our own heads,” Kelso player Katie Brandenburg said. “We weren’t necessarily consistent through the sets but staying together as a team and celebrating a little things helped us win each set and the whole game.”

Timeouts helped Kelso maintain their calm and continue their consistency — something the Lassies have improved on this season, leading to a 4-1 league record, 7-2 overall.

“Definitely more so this year than last,” VanHorn said. “It’s been a growing process mentally. I have six seniors, and all six of them played. I think that’s had a huge impact on the girls and the way that they played.”

Mountain View put forth a solid showing, despite the sweep, the Lassies are working into a new configuration as they reel from injuries. This was a game where they solidified that.

“Our defense is a little new to us because Katie Brandenburg didn’t always play all the way around,” VanHorn said. “So it has been a work in progress but I think they’ve done an excellent job stepping into these roles.”

VanHorn feels that the team has become comfortable now in their new roles, which is good considering they suffered a tough loss to Prairie in their last league match. The little things aided Kelso to the win.

“Just knowing when to let go of your mistakes and come together as a team and work hard together,” Brandenburg said, before noting what’s been an enemy of the team. “Mostly getting in our own heads, and our serve-receive. We just need to work hard and let go of our mistakes, because that’s where we probably struggled the most.”

Ashley McGhee tallied 14 digs, Brandenburg added 12 more, and Ashley Noah finished with eight kills and 20 assists. Brandenburg also posted five aces, with 11 kills. Karli Moore notched 12 kills and Sami Cockett had 14 assists.

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Jason is a journeyman sports reporter who has covered the Golden State Warriors, Oakland A's, along with a heavy emphasis on the Oakland Raiders. He comes to Cowlitz County from Oakland, Calif. and is a loving father.

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