WILLAPA VALLEY — Ilwaco had Toutle Lake on the ropes Wednesday, Nov. 1 at Districts, winning two of the first three sets and taking a 10-1 lead in the fourth. The Ducks recovered to take the set 26-24, then dominated the fifth to complete a 22-25, 25-14, 15-25, 26-24, 15-3 win. With their second loss in three District matches, the Fishermen were knocked out of the playoffs.
Ilwaco made its own big comeback in the opening set, erasing an 8-2 Toutle lead with a 10-3 run. Alayna Marsh broke a 22-22 tie with a powerful hit off the defender’s hands. Madeline Jacobson found herself on the favorable side of a height mismatch at the net against setter Sienna Rudd and slammed it down over her for a 24-22 lead. Toutle then botched Ebby McMullen’s serve, giving the first game to the Fishermen.
Toutle easily took the second set, 25-14, and built an 8-5 lead to start the third. Jaymie Patana directed a setter dump toward the sideline, where it fell in for a point, sparking a 5-0 run. Jacobson reached over for back-to-back spikes, extending the lead to 13-9. With Ilwaco ahead 16-11, Patana handled a tough let serve, leading to a big Jacobson kill. Ebby McMullen chased down a strong hit, leading to another point to make it 19-11. On game point, McMullen made a diving, over-the-shoulder stop, and Ilwaco won the point to win the set 25-15 and take a 2-1 lead.
Ilwaco continued its strong defensive play in the fourth set. Makenzie Kaech made a tough diving stop to her right. Next point, Jacobson dug one out in front of the net, and Gracie Barnett arced it over for a kill and 3-0 lead. With its toughest attacks being turned back, Toutle was finding points very hard to come by. By time it had a 10-1 lead, Ilwaco had scored 30 of the past 38 points in the match.
Ilwaco hitting errors and carrying violations helped the Ducks gradually chip away; they got within 11-6, then 14-11. With Ilwaco ahead 17-13, Patana found an opening, but Toutle’s defender made a diving stop that set up a powerful kill. Back-to-back aces gave Toutle its first lead at 18-17.
The end of the set was hard-fought. Kaech dinked one to an opening to tie it at 21. She then smashed a low hit that forced a lifting violation on Toutle. That put Ilwaco ahead 22-21, three points from victory. Kaech made a diving stop near the net, but Toutle still won at the net to tie it at 22. Asu Herrera Sanchez’s aggressive attack block put Ilwaco ahead 23-22. Alayna Marsh’s kill tied it at 24. Barnett and McMullen gave chase beyond the back line to keep the next ball alive, but couldn’t quite bump it over. On game point, Toutle’s hitter directed the ball over Jacobson and to the right of Kaech, completing the 26-24 win that tied the match at two.
Toutle was on the attack to start the fifth set, with well-placed hits, often to spots Ilwaco didn’t seem to be expecting. The Ducks took a big early lead, and Ilwaco never recovered in the short, first-to-15 tiebreaker. Molly Donald closed out the match with an unhittable shot to the right corner, giving the Ducks a 15-3 win.
Ilwaco had three players make second-team All-Pacific League: Libero Ebby McMullen and the middle-hitting duo of Madeline Jacobson and Makenzie Kaech. The nine-team league named ten players to its first team and eight to second team. Alayna Marsh, Sophie Marsh and Faith Simonson were all named Honorable Mention for the Fishermen, whose long-suffering program reached the playoffs for the first time since 2001.
Kaech, McMullen, Jacobson, Simonson, Jasmine Judd and Alayna Marsh all made All-Academic. Life Christian’s Susan Hurdelbrink was named league MVP.