MOSSYROCK — Losses to Mossyrock and Onalaska on the first day of Districts knocked Ilwaco out of the double-elimination tournament Saturday, Oct. 27.
The Mossyrock Vikings were a well-oiled machine on offense, turning every opportunity into a devastating attack. Ilwaco played an efficient game, mostly avoiding mistakes. But the Vikings rarely allowed them to sustain long rallies, pouncing on anything close to a free ball and setting up one of their legion of devastating hitters. Ilwaco usually had to score quickly; once Mossyrock set up its offense, the point was usually over.
“Mossyrock was a good team for us to play, for players who are returning next year, to get a glimpse of what volleyball at that level is like,” coach Michaela Eastham said after the Fishermen had been eliminated.
After Mossyrock scored the first two points, Ebby McMullen responded with a strong hit to send their defense scrambling, and on the next ball over Alyssa Marsh put Ilwaco on the board by hitting through a double-block. McMullen tied it with a straight-down block through the defender’s hands. The Vikings went on a 10-1 run to go ahead 13-3.
Jaymi Patana got going for Ilwaco. Her well-placed tip put the Vikings on defense, and Sophie Scrabeck capitalized with a slam-down kill. Patana followed with a strong serve, forcing a free ball that Abby Knopski smashed back for the kill. That was the level of perfection Ilwaco often needed for its points. The Fishermen got within 15-8 but couldn’t keep it up, dropping the first set 25-10.
Ilwaco took an early lead in the second. McMullen again showed her placement ability, directing a hit to an opening in the middle to force a futile dive. That hit tied it at one, and a couple of Viking mistakes put Ilwaco up 3-1. The 5’10” Heather Edgar answered, powering it through McMullen’s hands at the net for a point. Faith Mulligan then had a monster kill from the back row to tie it. Andee Nelson’s hit to the back line put Mossyrock up 4-3, a lead they never relinquished.
Mossyrock extended the lead to 17-7, but with strong serving by Hannah Hines and great plays by Sophia Marsh, Ilwaco closed the gap. Marsh had a fantastic block to turn around a tough point, finishing it off with a kill. She followed with another kill on the next point. Hines hit an ace to the back end, and Mossyrock also failed to return her next serve, cutting it to 17-12. Marsh scored again with a hit right to the middle on serve return. On the next point, she tapped back Mossyrock’s return for another Fishermen point, cutting it to 20-14. Ilwaco came as close as 21-16, but Shania Halder won the next point at the net and the Vikings went on to win the set by nine.
Ilwaco kept things close to start the third. Patana smashed a shot through a double-block, and on the next point Mossyrock could not do anything with Wylie McHale’s serve, tying it at five. Knopski retied it at six, winning at the net with a high shot just off the top of the hands of a Mossyrock player. The Vikings pulled away thanks to a dominant stretch by Heather Edgar, winning the set 25-11 to complete the match.
Saturday morning losses put Ilwaco and Onalaska in the elimination bracket for the afternoon action in Mossyrock. Before Ilwaco’s loss to the host school, Willapa Valley had defeated Onalaska, the Central League sixth seed. In the elimination round, the Loggers took down the Fishermen in four sets, 18-25, 25-14, 25-17, 25-20.
Onalaska’s Carmen Cleveland-Barrera, a 5’10” middle hitter, was strong at the net, while 6’1” Olivia Mitten and 5’9” Eryn Duryea provided power on the outside.
“They had a height advantage on us,” Ilwaco coach Michaela Eastham said. “We didn’t have anyone over 5’7”. Sophia (Marsh) and Ebby (McMullen) did a good job at the net, going against their 6’1” hitter. We haven’t really done double-blocking before, and they did a good job with that today.”
Ilwaco went on an 8-1 run to take an early 10-4 lead, taking advantage as the Loggers struggled with passing throughout the first set. Onalaska cut it to 18-17. Alyssa Marsh won a point at the net, and Jaymi Patana served an ace between rows near the sideline as Ilwaco stretched the lead to 22-17, on their way to a 25-18 first-set win.
Mitten got going in the second set. She tipped a shot over a double-block for a 7-3 lead, and smashed a couple of unhittable shots late in the set. Dakota Fuller spiked Faith Simonson’s setter dump for a 23-14 lead. Duryea followed with another spike, and the Loggers won by 11 to tie the match.
Trailing 7-2 in the third, Ilwaco fought to keep its season from slipping away. Wylie McHale’s diving stop led to a point that cut it to 7-6. When Onalaska tipped it around a double-block to the left-side, Knopski quickly filled the front-row gap to keep another tough point alive as Ilwaco cut it to 9-7. Ariana Bell served an ace, forcing a futile forward dive with a perfectly-placed serve to cut it to 10-9. A high-flying kill by Duryea and a dominant stretch in the middle for Cleveland-Barrera helped the Loggers to a 9-1 run, putting them well on the way to winning the set for a 2-1 lead.
Duryea dominated early in the fourth as Onalaska took an 8-3 lead. Alyssa Marsh hit one deep in the corner that just stayed in bounds to cut it to 11-9. Cleveland-Barrera again made some tough plays at the net. She had a tip-kill, getting to the ball just ahead of an Ilwaco spike attempt, then followed with a spike of her own for a 20-12 lead.
Ilwaco made one last rally. Bell absorbed one of Mitten’s hardest hits, getting off a good pass that led to an Ilwaco point. Alyssa Marsh dived forward to get to a tough cross-court hit, connected on a pass, and Simonson slammed it to the corner to cut it to 21-17. An effective double-block by Patana and McMullen led to Marsh’s kill to the middle, cutting the lead to three, and Ilwaco got as close as 22-20.
Fuller answered for Onalaska with a kill into the back-row gap on a serve-return. Duryea followed with a kill on a free ball. Fuller finished off the match, slamming a hit straight down at the net.
“I can’t wait for next year,” Eastham said. “We have so many players who came so far that are coming back.”
ILWACO — Raymond defeated Ilwaco 25-20, 25-20, 25-17 to close out the regular season Wednesday, Oct. 24. The Seagulls finished 6-3 in league play, while Ilwaco finished 3-6. Both teams qualified for the District playoffs.
Tina Sypaphay had a big day hitting for Raymond. Ebby McMullen kept Ilwaco close in the second set, picking apart the Seagulls defense with precise placement. The set was tied at 16 before Raymond closed it out with a 9-4 run to take command of the match.
Willapa Valley beat Ilwaco 25-18, 26-24, 25-13 Monday, Oct. 22 in Menlo.