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Thursday’s Prep Volleyball: Bearcats Best Bobcats in Three Sets Thanks to Carefree Approach

Images from an Evergreen 2A Conference volleyball match between W.F. West and Aberdeen at W.F. West High School on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017.

Inspired Effort: Diving Scramble by Ashlyn Whalen Pushes W.F. West Over the Top
By Jordan Nailon
jnailon@chronline.com
The outcome was all but assured already but that didn’t stop W.F. West sophomore Ashlyn Whalen from turning in a Catwoman inspired effort midway through the third set of Thursday’s 2A Evergreen Conference volleyball showdown with Aberdeen here in Chehalis.
With two sets already notched in their favor the Bearcats were leading 10-9 when Whalen went airborne to return a strong hit from the Bobcats. Hurtling herself parallel to the floor Whalen was able to punch the ball back toward the net with a closed fist and an outstretched arm before screeching to a sudden stop on the hardwood. Whalen’s teammate, Payyton Crawford, had to stab quick to set the ball back aloft and wound up sending it hurtling back toward Whalen who was still scrambling to peel herself off of the court. That’s when, from her knees, Whalen reached back and returned the ball to the Aberdeen side of the net with a decided smack of concerted authority that ripped her teammates from their bench seats in a cacophonous uproar. The impressive volley wound up netting W.F. West a point, but more importantly, the play announced the Bearcats intention to compete relentlessly on every play, no matter the score.
When it was all said and done the Bearcats came away with a 3-0 victory over Aberdeen with set victories of 25-20, 25-11 and 25-12. While none of the sets wound up particularly close, W.F. West coach Emily Mora, pointed to that eye popping first, and second chance, effort by Whalen as the type of play that will help the Bearcats remain at arm’s’ length from mediocrity as their season progresses.
“That was kind of a magical moment for me as a coach because I’d just called a timeout a few plays earlier and reminded the girls that we needed to remain focused and battle for every point,” said Mora. “And then we go out and pull off a magic trick like that. It was a great play.”
Whalen said she was entirely unsure if she would even be able to get a hand on the ball before leaving her feet, but she figured there was no harm that could come from casting her lot to the wind. So she dove, and the rest is history.
“I didn’t know, but I thought if I laid out my chances would be a lot better. I kind of looked around like, ‘Is anyone around me?’” said a still surprised Whalen.
Once the ball found the hardwood on the other side of the net the momentum was definitively on the Bearcats side of the net and they scored 14 of the next 17 points, including seven straight points with Makenzie Moore at the service stripe, to close the game out decisively.
“Our team always creates energy,” said Whalen as teammates and fans streamed by post game to give her kudos for her play. “We all work really hard together and we always come together and support each other after a big play.”
The Bearcats came into Thursday night’s game looking to rebound after a loss to Tumwater on Tuesday in their opening league contest. Whalen said the team was determined to get things turned around quickly, and a 3-0 sweep of a league foe should help to do just that.
“After our hard loss we really wanted to get our first league win tonight in our next game out,” said Whalen.
Mora noted that her team looked a little tense during their loss to Tumwater which she believes led to a number of compounding, and, avoidable errors. In order to help her charges play free and easy goal Mora took a unique approach during pregame preparations. Specifically, Mora brought a children’s book titled, “Pete the Cat” into the locker room and engaged in a bit of good old fashioned story time with the players.
“Whatever Pete the Cat steps in he just keeps walking along and doesn’t let it bother him,” explained Mora with a laugh. “That’s the kind of attitude I want the girls to carry with them. We’re going to make errors and we’re going to have great stuff happen, too. But we can’t dwell on any of it. We’ve just got to keep on walking.”
The Bearcats tallied 19 aces on the evening including nine off the hand of Moore, who added eight kills to the W.F. West effort. Haley Simmons added 11 assists and six aces for the Bearcats while Megan Pallas notched nine kills. Crawford dished a dozen assists for W.F. West and Whalen shoveled 13 digs.
W.F. West (3-3, 1-1 league) will host Rochester in league action on Tuesday.

Tigers Claw Through Pirates
ADNA — Napavine wasted no time against Adna here on Thursday, taking down the Pirates 3-0 in a Central 2B League volleyball match.
Napavine won each set 25-10, 25-12 and 25-12.
Adna’s Adison Stewart had six kills and Tori Lange added three kills.
“At times, we played good, we had some volleys back and forth. They’re more experienced, they put us on the defense all the time,” Adna coach Wendie Dotson said. “There’s good things that happened. Anna’s (Jones) passing, Tori’s looking for holes, that’s positive for us. We have two of the top teams in our league this year and unfortunately we have to play them.”
Napavine’s Mollie Olson had 17 kills, 10 digs, three block kills and recorded 100 percent serving. Abbi Music added six kills and seven digs.
“The girls played great tonight, I was happy with their energy level tonight because we’ve been struggling with energy level,” Napavine coach Monica Dailey said. “They really stepped it up, it was fun to watch. They played really well tonight and we’re moving in the direction we want to as a team.”
Dailey noted Ada Williams and Olivia Woodrum’s hustle tonight, and said Melissa Lee, Maddie Thompson and Olivia Alegria all played great defense for the Tigers.
Adna (1-4, 1-2 league) hits the road to face Onalaska on Monday in a nonleague match. Napavine (6-0, 3-0 league) hosts Mossyrock on Monday in a big nonleague contest.

Onalaska Wins in Five Over Morton-White Pass
RANDLE — Onalaska and Morton-White Pass played a five-set thriller here on Thursday, with the Lady Loggers earning the 3-2 win in a Central 2B League volleyball match.
Onalaska won the first set, 25-14. MWP rallied back and took the next two sets, 25-21 and 25-18. The Lady Loggers took the fourth set, 25-20, and cruised in the fifth set, 15-6.
Olivia Mitten recorded 15 kills and two blocks and Eryn Duryea had 65 defensive passes and 13 kills and was 24 of 24 serving. Phoebe Rich added 10 kills and 31 defensive passes for the Lady Loggers.
“I think that we came out with a lot of energy. I liked how the girls persevered, they came back and fought. They really wanted to win,” Onalaska coach Terri Dalsted said. “Once you believe in yourself and push through it, we executed the gameplan and did a great job.”
MWP’s Carly King had 13 assists, 15 kills and served 15 of 15 with three aces. Belen Salguero added 12 kills and Hannah Smathers chipped in 11 assists and was 9 of 9 serving.
Onalaska (1-4, 1-2 league) hosts Adna on Monday in a nonleague match, while MWP (2-5, 1-2 league) hits the road to face Rainier on Tuesday in a C2BL match.

Centralia Falls to Tumwater
TUMWATER — Centralia battled in the first set and couldn’t keep it up, as Tumwater earned a 3-0 win over the Tigers in an Evergreen 2A Conference volleyball match here on Thursday.
Centralia was down 6-0 in the first set, and battled back into the set, but eventually fell 25-23. It was all Tumwater after that, taking the second set 25-10 and the third set 25-15.
Rachel Wilkerson had seven kills, 10 digs and was 12 of 12 serving with three aces. McKenna Smith added seven kills and Chelsea Petrino added four kills and nine digs for the Tigers.
Centralia’s Danika Jensen was 11 of 11 serving and Kylie Sharp tallied 11 digs.
“It was one of those nights where we saw a little bit of everything. The girls fought back and had a chance to win it. The second set, we just couldn’t get anything to go right for us,” Centralia coach Neil Sharp said. “The third set was a mix in between, we just couldn’t get a break. I’m proud of the girls for bouncing back and continuing the fight. It prepares us for later on in the season.”
Centralia (12-4, 1-1 league) travels back to Tumwater on Tuesday for an EvCo match against Black Hills.

Wolves Devour Warriors
ROCHESTER — Black Hills came to Rochester on Thursday and left with a 3-0 win in an Evergreen 2A Conference volleyball match.
The Wolves won each set, 25-13, 25-11 and 25-10.
Rochester’s Lexi Jones-Sederberg recorded four kills, Marissa Rigsbee added five assists and Bethany Hawes had two aces.
Rochester (3-5, 0-2 league) will travel south next Tuesday to face W.F. West in an EvCo match.

Rainier Drops Pe Ell
PE ELL — Pe Ell played well here on Thursday, but it wasn’t enough as Rainier earned a 3-0 win in a Central 2B League volleyball match.
Rainier won each set, 25-17, 25-20 and 25-17.
Presley Peterson, Ellie Little and Chrysten Smith each served 100 percent and Alli Justice and Peterson each recorded 90 percent passing.
“I feel like it was winnable for us, we made some key errors with serving and hitting,” Pe Ell coach Karie Cleveland said. “I feel like the girls played the best we have so far this season, I’m hopeful and confident and they’re doing well.”
Pe Ell (0-5, 0-3 league) travels to face Mossyrock on Tuesday in a C2BL match.

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