CASTLE ROCK - Facing a "must win" situation, the Lady Fishermen were outlasted by Castle Rock three games to two in Trico League volleyball.
Ilwaco gave arguably their best effort of the season, but their lack of depth may have been their undoing.
"We fought hard," Coach Grant Chinn said after the close loss that eliminated the Lady Fishermen from District IV play for the second consecutive season. He had praise for freshman Tara Hankins who started the key contest as well as Amber Stanley who split time with Hankins and served extremely well.
Senior Nicole Adams was again Ilwaco's number one scoring option, and she came through all night. The serving and setting skills of Marissa Janas proved to be a strong combination whenever the Lady Fishermen needed a rally against the Rockets. Jessie Landeros played well on the floor and her power-serves were instrumental in Ilwaco success in the first and third contests.
Michelle Wroble, also a senior, used her deep serves and did her best to block Castle Rock's attack at the net. Perhaps the most pleasant surprise of the season has been the strong play of Carly Taylor. She went to the net with no fear, even though she was competing with Rockets as much as eight inches taller. Taylor's serves were right on the money, often when the game was on the line.
Game one, won by the Lady Fishermen, was typical of the match. First off, they were playing on the side of the Rocket court that had light. The east half had only two of four lights working and was extremely dark. All five teams on the "dark side" lost during the match.
Ilwaco fell behind 9-3 early, with Landeros' serves gaining the only points for Ilwaco. Then Janas went to work, scoring three times on serves. Landeros added two more and Adams hit an ace and pounded spike after spike at the Rockets. Stanley served the point that tied the game at 17-17.
Wroble and Taylor served key points bringing the game to 24-24, Castle Rock took the lead, and at game point Davis made a marvelous over the shoulder save to tie at 25-25. Landeros finished what she had started with two more blistering serves to give the Lady Fishermen a 27-25 victory. The passing and hustle was evident from all seven girls and their confidence grew visibly during their 14-8 run to get back in the contest. They were having fun.
In game two (on the dark side), Ilwaco took a 5-4 lead on a Wroble stuff at mid court, fell behind 12-5 and never recovered, losing 25-16. Back in the light in the pivotal game three Stanley served, and Adams made several solid hits to give Ilwaco a lead of 11-8. Taylor's saves, a drop shot by Landeros and the combination of Janas sets and Adams kills put Ilwaco up 17-9 as they went on to win 25-21 on two of Wroble's patented deep serves to close out the game.
In game four the Lady Fishermen fell behind 13-4 but came back to within 15-16, with a Landeros to Janas to Hankins tip play in desperation being the highlight of the charge. A series of overpowering serves by Rocket Erica Smith however put the game away to force a final contest.
Ilwaco won the toss but elected to serve instead of going for the lighted side of the gym. Castle Rock, who had substituted liberally throughout the match, took leads of 3-0 and 9-3. Several unforced errors appeared to be a result of mental and physical fatigue setting in for Ilwaco. Two starters on Ilwaco's volleyball team did not make the trip as they missed practice time last week.
Fittingly the Lady Fishermen's final point of the 7-15 loss came on a Wroble serve and an Adams kill. The Lady Fishermen fell to fifth place in the Trico with a 3-8 record and are 4-9 overall.
The junior varsity lost three straight games by scores of 12-25, 16-25 and 4-15. Chelsea Ostgaard passed and dug very well, Kyleigh Friend made many key sets and Bethany Heimbigner led the team in serving points.
Ilwaco 27 16 25 21 7
CR 25 25 21 25 15