T-Birds find groove late to sweep Wolves


Another game, another sweep. It’s becoming business as usual for the Tumwater volleyball team.

With the T-Birds’ 25-23, 25-19, 25-20 sweep over Black Hills on Tuesday, Tumwater has now won nine games in a row, with each of the last eight coming in sweeps over 2A EvCo opponents.

“It feels good,” Tumwater coach Molly Cichosz said. “We’re on our way to sweeping every team.”

The Thunderbirds (10-1, 8-0 2A EvCo) weren’t dominant from start to finish against the Wolves, as it was Black Hills that got out to a 10-4 lead out of the gate.

The Wolves (7-4, 6-2 2A EvCo) were taking advantage of several hitting and service errors from the T-Birds, and even when Tumwater bridged the gap and got within two later in the set, they scored four straight points to make it 19-13.

From there, the momentum quickly shifted, however, as Tumwater went on a 9-1 run to take a 22-20 lead, and they sealed the set shortly after.

The second set followed a similar arc, as the two teams were tied at 17 before Tumwater scored eight of the final 10 points to take a 2-0 lead.

“I think we were just having a tough time finding our groove tonight, the whole night,” Cichosz said. “But we did kind of fall into it a little bit towards the end of each set.”

A key reason why was Paige Henderson, who made her presence felt at the net throughout. She finished with a team-high nine kills and added three blocks.

“Paige is really good at finding a way to get a kill,” Cichosz said. “She finds the holes and she’s aggressive and she switches it up so they’re always guessing. (She’s) a really good tool for us on offense.”

The other usual suspects were also involved. Brooklynn Hayes led the team defensively with 17 digs while also serving three aces, while Emily Robello had three aces of her own while also dishing out 10 assists and tallying five digs.

Briana Zavala also delivered from the service line with three aces. Tove Hugus and Chloe Henderson both added five kills.

Down 20-14 in the third set, the Wolves tried to flip the script and muster a comeback of their own, scoring the next five points to get within one. But the Thunderbirds followed by scoring five of the game’s final six points.

While the end result for the Wolves was the same as the first time the two teams played them in mid-September,  coach Karlee Sampson was pleased  with how the team stuck with the T-Birds.

"I thought we played a great game and showed up a lot better than the first time we played them," Sampson said.

Sampson also commended Ashley Harris, who finished the day with 14 kills, three aces and two blocks. Lilly Kincaid tallied 21 assists and Claire Johnson added seven kills.

Ava Klovis had two kills and two aces, while Ellie Johnson had two blocks.

With the win, the Thunderbirds now lead the Wolves atop the 2A EvCo standings by two games, and they hold the tiebreaker.

With their magic number to clinch the league title quickly dwindling, Cichosz and the Thunderbirds are starting to prepare for what could be a deep postseason run.

“It’s not our best win that we’ve had, but I’m excited to grow and keep pushing forward and get ready for districts.” Cichosz said.

Both Tumwater and Black Hills return to the court on Thursday, with the T-Birds returning home to host W.F. West and the Wolves heading to Aberdeen.