MONTESANO — Kept off-balance for a good portion of each set by its East County rival, Montesano found the range when necessary.
Surging late in every set, the unbeaten Bulldogs swept Elma, 25-15, 25-16, 25-14, in an Evergreen 1A League volleyball opener Tuesday at Bo Griffith Memorial Gym.
This contest was more competitive than the scores indicated. Picking up several Bulldog hits and scoring with some well-placed tips and dumps (plays in which a player fakes a set and pushes the ball over the net), the young Eagles (0-1, 2-5) were in decent position at the midpoint of each set.
They trailed by only three (16-13 in both cases) in each of the first two sets and were down by just a point, at 11-10, in the third.
In each case, however, the more experienced, harder-hitting Bulldogs (1-0, 7-0) were able to find their offensive rhythm to put away the sets.
Senior Shayla Floch led Montesano with 10 kills, two more than teammate Jordan Spradlin. The Bulldogs, however, missed 12 kill attempts, well above their customary number.
Monte coach Debbie Gibson said her players told her afterward that they lacked energy. Gibson wasn’t inclined to disagree.
“They weren’t playing with energy,” she emphasized. “They let Elma control the first set. We slowly picked things up as the match progressed…and I was pleased with the way we played the third set. We did what we had to do to get the job done. I’ve got to give Elma credit. They played with a lot of energy and they played hard.”
First-year Elma head coach Kendra Henry, who starts three freshmen, gave her team generally high marks.
“We’ve got some things to work on (but) we’ve actually been playing very well lately,” Henry said.
The Eagles might well have pulled out the opening set had it not been been for six missed serves. The last of those gave Monte a side-out with a 17-13 lead.
Josie Talley then served five straight points, including a pair of clean aces, as the Bulldogs pulled away.
The second set was more of the same. Freshman Quin Mikel’s back-row kill gave the Eagles an early 7-5 lead. The Bulldogs, however, moved ahead to stay at 10-9 when Josie Toyra converted a Hannah Hatcher set.
Toyra had a six-point serving spree later in the set.
The Bulldogs never trailed in the third set, but needed Hatcher’s seven consecutive serves to pull away. Floch was the hitting standout in that stanza, with four kills.
Hatcher and Toyra each served three aces, with the latter putting all 14 of her serves into play. Talley contributed 12 digs, one more than teammate Hatcher.
Coach Henry commended Mikel’s all-around play and enthusiasm and the hitting of Jalyn Sackrider, another freshman. Junior setter Kenna Stoney was effective tipping and dumping, particularly in the first two sets.
The Bulldogs also took the JV match, 25-6, 25-9, with Kaydee Mittleider cited for serving. Hoquiam’s C squad downed Monte, 25-15, 21-25, 16-14.
Tenino will be the next opponent for both teams. The Bulldogs visit the Beavers on Thursday. Elma hosts Tenino next Tuesday.