NASELLE — The Comets fell short of a trip to State after a 2-2 week in post-season play. The Comets went 2-1 in the District IV playoffs, including a win over Lake Quinault in the third-place game. That result forced the Comets to go east to battle a District V team, Sunnyside Christian, for a slot at State. The Comets came up short in five sets in that Saturday, Nov. 4, match.
The Comets’ District run started with a 25-14, 25-14, 25-23 quarterfinal win at home against Taholah Tuesday, Oct 31. The Comets were off their game, but Taholah was overmatched. Naselle committed 18 hitting errors and 13 service errors. However, they also served 27 aces (10 by Lily Harman, nine by Holly Disch, and seven by Hailey Weston,) giving them a nearly insurmountable edge.
Disch served six aces in a span of eight points to build an early 15-3 lead, but a string of Naselle mistakes helped allow an 8-1 Chitwhin run. Naselle didn’t entirely recover its swagger but still handily won the opening set.
Harman twice stopped Naselle slumps with dominant stretches of serving. She keyed a 10-1 run that gave the Comets a 10-4 second-game lead. Later, with Naselle clinging to a 14-13 edge, Weston, the Comets’ most reliable hitter on the night (six kills, one error, .385 percentage) calmly placed a hit in the big gap in the defense for a point. That got the serve back to Harman, who helped the Comets close out the set on an 11-1 run.
After five aces during the second set, Harman started the third with two more, and Naselle jumped out to a 6-1 lead. The Comets stretched their lead to 20-9. The Comets hit another rough patch as Taholah closed to within 24-23 before Kenzie Glenn’s match-clinching kill.
Semifinals Against Firm Foundation
In semifinals at Tumwater, the Firm Foundation Eagles, led by freshman middle hitter Katie Kogler, handled Naselle 25-16, 25-22, 24-26, 25-22, avenging two regular season losses.
The Comets were misfiring on hits and passes early on and quickly fell behind 13-2. After cruising to the first set win, Firm Foundation went ahead 5-0 in the second. Holly Disch had three kills during an 8-2 run that put the Comets ahead 8-7. However, the Eagles quickly regained the lead and kept it, winning the set to go ahead 2-0.
Disch was in dominant form in the third set with six kills, while Kogler got equally hot for the Eagles. With Firm Foundation clinging to a 23-21 lead, Taylor Gudmundson set up Sophie Scrabeck for a soaring kill to an opening in mid-court. Darian Jacot won a battle at the net to tie it at 24. Disch kept a long rally alive with tough digs, before a Gudmundson spike gave Naselle a 25-24 lead. An Eagle hit sailed out of bounds to complete the 26-24 win, keeping the Comets alive down two sets to one.
The Comets continued their comeback attempt, grabbing an early lead in the fourth game. Gudmundson set up Weston in the back row for a kill to go ahead 7-4. Sophie Scrabeck and Jackie Steenerson followed shortly with big hits to push the lead to 9-5. Firm Foundation roared back to take an 18-13 lead. Gudmundon’s setter dump kill started a streak of five straight Comet points to tie it at 18. An overpowering spike by Kogler made it 24-22 Firm Foundation. The Eagles closed out the match with a kill to a mid-court opening.
The semifinal win put Firm Foundation in the District title game against Three Rivers Christian and sent the Comets to the third-place game against Lake Quinault; both these games took place right after the semifinal matches. Three Rivers would beat Firm Foundation for the District title.
The Comets kept their State hopes alive with their 25-20, 25-18, 22-25, 25-21 win against a solid Lake Quinault Elks team.
Naselle jumped out to a 7-1 lead, but Quinault closed the gap to 18-17. Jackie Steenerson got going late with a pair of high-velocity kills, extending the lead to 23-20. A couple of misses by Quinault capped the opening-game win.
Harman carved up the Elks with three straight aces to start the second set. Twice in three plays, Sophie Scrabeck got perfect feeds from Darian Jacot and threw them down for kills, extending the lead to 14-9. Gudmundson chased down a pass and set one perfectly for Disch, whose kill to the back corner made it 19-14.
With the Comets clinging to a 20-17 lead, Steenerson got to a ball along the sideline near the net and guided it just inside the antenna and toward mid-court for a tough kill. Scrabeck followed with three straight aces for a 24-17 lead. On game point, Kenzie Glenn zipped a hit to the back line, and the Comets took a 2-0 lead in the match.
In the third game, Quinault trailed 19-15 but then scored six straight to take the third-set lead. Jayhla Tatro’s cross-court kill to the back corner made it 22-20 Elks, and Quinault went on to win the set.
Quinault led the fourth game 6-3, but Disch served three straight aces, hitting spots in the corner, to give the Comets a 7-6 lead. Quinault went back in front 15-11.
At that point, the Comets called timeout, after which they closed out the match on a 14-6 run. Coach Rebekah Wirkkala called on her team to set up quicker hits. “And they did,” she said. “We were catching them still in transition.”
The Comets finally began finding openings. Gudmundson served back-to-back aces, then fed Disch for a fastball to the corner that tied it at 17. Disch made an athletic play, leaping backward to get to a ball before uncoiling to deliver a devastating strike, tying it again at 18. Sophie Scrabeck served two straight aces for a 21-19 lead. On the next point, the Comets kept Quinault on defense with well-placed hits; Kenzie Glenn came up with the kill. Scrabeck followed with another ace. Glenn finished the match with a kill to a wide-open middle of the court.
Sunnyside Christian beats Naselle
The Sunnyside Christian Knights, based southeast of Yakima, hosted the Comets on Saturday, a result of a situation where Districts IV and V had to compete for slots at State. The Comets kept the match alive with a close fourth set win, but Sunnyside took the tie-breaking fifth set to win 25-14, 22-25, 25-16, 23-25, 15-7.