Mossyrock Swept by No. 1 Oakesdale in State Championship


YAKIMA — The Mossyrock volleyball team got the matchup that it had wanted and expected for 364 days. The Vikings brought back the bulk of their weapons, went undefeated over the course of the 2022 season, and swept their way through their first three matches in Yakima, going intp Friday’s state title game improved from the team that lost in five sets in last season’s 1B state championship.

Unfortunately, so did No. 1 Oakesdale.

The top-ranked Nighthawks blitzed the Vikings early and never let them recover, winning its ninth state title in the past 11 seasons with a 25-13, 25-17, 29-27 sweep.

Mossyrock, meanwhile, takes second place in 1B for the second straight year, and its fifth runner-up finish since 2016.

“I’m very proud of our girls,” Mossyrock coach Alex Nelson said. “We knew this was possibly going to be the matchup that lined up at the end of the year, and it was. We got there, and we wanted a different outcome, but still an accomplishment to get here.”

Payton Torrey, Paige Houghtelling, and Erin Cournyer all had seven kills to share the team lead for the Vikings, while Hailey Brooks had six.

But from the start, the Mossyrock offense couldn’t find its trademark fast rhythm, thanks to to a perplexing Oakesdale serving game the Vikings took two sets to figure out. And just about every thing they sent a free ball over the net, the Nighthawks sent it back with force, led by reigning all-State hitter Gianna Anderson.

“We just couldn’t line up with her,” Nelson said. “We haven’t seen that speed this year. The third set, I think we figured it out, but it was just too late by the time we figured it out.”

The result was a pair of sets to start that got off nightmarishly for the Vikings. Oakesdale jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the first set, and did even better in the second, starting off with a 10-1 run.

“I think it’s easy when you’re the one attacking,” Nelson said. “We just struggled in serve-receive. They won the serve-receive vs. serve game, and we just didn’t start attacking until that third set. The passing was so important, and you could see that in the scoring. We struggled with that, and had we started out a little stronger in that department, I think we could’ve competed with them.”

The third set turned much closer to what many expected the matchup to be coming it, with the Vikings figuring out their passing and jumping out to a 12-6 lead before the Nighthawks came back. Oakesdale charged out to a 23-19 advantage and got to championship point at 24-23, but Mossyrock fended it off, and proceeded to see three set-point opportunities come and go. Given their second crack at the title at 28-27, the Nighthawks didn’t waste it.

Mossyrock will graduate Torrey, Brooks, Houghtelling, and Caelyn Marshall, all of whom have started at least three years. The quartet helped lead the Vikings in their transition to the 1B realm, and leave with top-three state finishes in all three of their years that concluded with a postseason.

“Two seconds and a third is a huge accomplishment,” Nelson said. “That in itself speaks volumes. More importantly, they’re great kids. They’re great role models for those coming behind them, because they play well, but they’re also great kids.”