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St. Mary's opens state tonight

Sixth-ranked St. Mary's High opens play tonight in the Class 2A stategirls volleyball playoffs when it hosts Bonanza at 7 p.m.

St. Mary's, which won its second consecutive Big Fir League championshipthis season, takes a 20-0 record into the game. Bonanza is ranked ninthin the state.

Tonight's winner advances to play the Monroe-Salem Academy winner inthe opening round of the eight-team state tournament Nov. 6-8.

The tournament is at the Chiles Center on the campus of the Universityof Portland.

St. Mary's first-year coach James Joy says the Crusaders must concentrateon tonight's state sub-playoff game and not look ahead to a possible berthin the final-eight tournament.

I'm sure Bonanza is going to be fired up coming in here becausethey lost to St. Mary's last year in the first round of the playoffs,says Joy, who replaced Laurel Alexander as the Crusaders' head coach priorto this season. They were expecting to go on to the state tournamentlast year, and they weren't very happy when they left here.

This should be a real dog fight. Bonanza is a very tough team toplay because they execute so well. They don't do anything real fancy, otherthan pass the ball and put it away.

We beat them in pool play in the Oakridge tournament early in theseason, and then they beat us in the finals. So we would seem to be prettyeven again.

St. Mary's has two first-team Big Fir all-stars in its starting lineup.They are middle hitter Becky Naumes and setter Katie Hansen.

Other starters for the Crusaders will be Katie Davidson, Amanda Zielony,Rachel Holbert and Maren Zielony.

Bonanza is led by senior Sara Romtvedt, daughter of head coach DonnaRomtvedt.

They like to move her around and use her in different areas,says Joy. But she typically hits in the middle and on the outside.

The Crusaders hope team balance will give them an edge.

We're real team-oriented, says Joy. We don't have oneoutstanding player. They are all talented, and we like to play more as ateam. Through the season, we had several players come up with 10 kills ina game. It seems like it's been a different player each week.

We feel we need Maren to have a big game against Bonanza. We'vebeen working to get her the ball more. Hopefully, that will pay off forus.

Tickets for tonight's game are $6 for adults and $4 for students.

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