ILWACO - For the first 30 points on senior night the Lady Fishermen were as good or better than any volleyball team in the Trico League. Seniors Melany Bliss, Erin McDonnell and Courtney Gilgore and Theresa Goodwin, Alexa Wirkkala, Kate Denton, Charlotte Johnson, and Marin McDonnell seemed to be everywhere at once against league king pin Stevenson.
Gilgore was digging the Lady Bulldog's best blasts; Bliss and Erin McDonnell were pounding spikes with powerful precision, Johnson was setting Wirkkala and Marin McDonnell, and Denton and Goodwin were passing with pinpoint accuracy. Without missing a serve, Ilwaco fashioned a 17-13 lead over the top team in the league and doing it with a verve to match the raucous crowd at Aase Gymnasium.
A lesser team than Stevenson would have wilted, but when Kristi Garwood stepped to the line for her to turn to serve the Lady Bulldogs tallied the next dozen points to win game one going away, 25-17. The win was in large part due to the thunderous kills from Bailey Nelson and company.
The Lady Bulldogs, after regaining their swagger, tallied the first five points of the second game to have a run of 17 unanswered scores against Ilwaco. From the time the Lady Fishermen led 17-13 until the end of the match, Stevenson outscored their hosts 62-16, with seven of Ilwaco's final 16 points coming off their opponents missed serves.
The game scores were 25-17, 25-7 and 25-9. The Lady Bulldogs pounded 22 service aces to seven for Ilwaco, had 30 kills to 10 for the Lady Fishermen and doubled up on blocks with a six to three advantage. Ilwaco missed but three serves for their best effort of the season from the stripe, while Stevenson whiffed on seven.
Gilgore had five digs and four assists, Johnson added five assists, and Denton chipped in six digs to lead Ilwaco in the back row. Bliss had four kills and Erin McDonnell had three and two blocks. Stevenson's Nelson had 10 kills and Kelsey Penner had seven and also had a game-high eight service aces to lead the visitors.
Stevenson demonstrated why they are Trico champions with an 11-1 record and they are 13-1 overall. They will open District IV play Wednesday and the district tourney concludes Saturday with a total of four teams from the Trico and Evergreen leagues qualifying for state. Ilwaco finishes at 0-12 in league play and 0-14 overall.
Coach Candy Johnson said, "We played the best volleyball of the season to start off tonight. It has been a long and difficult season for us, but I'm glad we came back with an exciting effort. We will miss the three seniors (Erin McDonnell, Bliss and Gilgore) and Theresa (Goodwin) is moving and won't be back. I appreciate all the hard work the players put in this year."
She received hugs all around and then reminded the returning players, "Remember summer open gym and summer camps." Johnson summed up the season by saying, "This year was an emotional roller coaster. First Doug Rogers (who the season was dedicated to) passed away, then we lost several kids to injuries, illness and disciplinary actions, and then my knee kept me from moving like I am used to in practice and at the matches." Johnson is set for surgery. "All in all I see a lot of hope for the volleyball program with the way the underclassmen played tonight and with the middle school prospects coming up."
The JV lost 25-18, 25-16, and 15-12 as Brittnee Pattison, Sydney Ward, and Alexis Furgusen all played well for Coach Linda Raaymakers squad that finished 1-13 on the year.