NASELLE - A large enthusiastic crowd, led by the Naselle pep section, cheered the Naselle Comets volleyball team as they beat the previously unbeaten Willapa Valley Vikings in a Pacific League volleyball match Tuesday, Oct. 21, in the Naselle gym. The Comets ran their league record to 4-0, 8-2 overall with the win.
Both teams were unbeaten in league play coming into this match. The hard-fought victory came in - what else, but - a five-game match. This was the Comets' fifth five-game match of the season and they won all but one of those.
Against the Vikings, NHS won the first game 25-23, lost the next two games 18-25 and 23-25 and came back to win the final two games 25-23 and 15-11. As the scores indicate, this was a very close match, with three of the games decided by two points, one by seven points and the final game saw the Comets prevail by a four point margin.
NHS started out slowly in game one as errors forced them to fall behind 11-5 early.
"We were making too many unforced errors but, as the game went along, we started serving better and making fewer mistakes. Toni Abbott's good defensive play was a key to our win," coach Debbie Denny said.
The Comets had no sooner found themselves leading the match, when they quickly gave it right back to the talented Vikings. Denny lamented, "In the second game, Valley stepped up to beat us and they did. We served poorly." The seven-point loss in game two found the teams tied at 1-1.
The third game turned into one of the tightest games of the night. "We went ahead 18 to 14 but couldn't hold it," Denny said. "The score was tight until the end with aggressive play on both sides." However, Valley won the game by two points.
With the loss, NHS trailed 2-1 and they had no more room for error if they hoped to hold their Pacific League leading record intact. Denny liked what she saw: "Naselle went out to win and Valley also played to win - good competition on both sides. Jamie Hines came off the bench to serve the last 5 points and Annie [Herrold] and Marijane [Mobley] did the rest on offense in the front row."
The Comets rolled to a convincing seven-point win to even the match score at 2-2.
The decisive and match-deciding fifth game had several things going for it that were in Naselle's favor.
"Our confidence was up," Denny explained. "Being homecoming/spirit week, along with Parent Appreciation night, we had the most amazing fan support. Momentum had swung our way.
"Annie's [Herrold] defensive back row play along with Toni's [Abbot] was amazing, Kelli [Revis] took care of the net with key blocks and Jamie [Bighill] and Katie's [Klinger] setting added to the team's success.
"Over all - big thanks go to the Naselle pep section - a nice large crowd and very vocal. It made for a great night!" Denny exclaimed.
The result was a Naselle four-point win in the fifth game, giving NHS the 3-2 match win and maintaining their unbeaten league record.
Denny had words of praise for the entire team.
"The girls put a full team effort together. Marijane's hitting, Kelli's hitting and blocking, Toni's and Annie's defense were all important in our win. Katie, back for her first match after being out with a broken hand and Jamie subbed for each other for all 5 games and both came off the bench and set and played defense extremely well."
The Naselle JVs won their match 2-1 by scores of 25-21, 21-25 and 20-18.
JV coach Kim Eaton said, "Kellyn Pakenen had a real strong serving game. Katherine Herrold and Jamie Ahlstrom had real good net play. The last game was beginning to become a marathon until the Valley coach called a time-out at 19-18 and she didn't have a time out left and the official awarded us game point."
The Comets C-Squad lost 2-0 by scores of 13-25 and 11-25. C-squad coach Jenny Forney said, "Rebecca Johnson and Angela Dundom came through with some very hard serves. They also had 100 percent serving."
Valley 23 25 25 18 11 -(2)
Naselle 25 18 23 25 15 -(3)