NAPAVINE — In its most complete team outing in recent weeks, the Napavine volleyball team swept its way past Rainier at home Thursday in a pivotal league matchup, 25-8, 25-22, 25-22.
The Tigers put together a dominant first set, running out to an 11-6 early lead before forcing a Mountaineer timeout. A few points later, the Tigers again forced a timeout after a Keira O’Neill kill made it 18-7. The Mountaineers mustered one more point for the rest of the set to give the Tigers a 25-8 win to start it out.
“Tonight was the first time that the girls kept to the game plan from start to finish, they were consistently still focused on the game plan,” Tigers coach Monica Dailey said.
Then in the second set, the Mountaineers finally got going after a rotation issue frustrated the Tigers and got them a bit out of system, leading to a 5-1 hole.
Napavine stuck with the game plan, attacking weak spots in the Rainier defense which eventually led to a slow comeback. The Tigers managed to tie the game at 20-20, and went on to win four straight points before closing the second set out, 25-22.
The Tigers used that momentum to lead for most of the third set before closing out the match, 25-22.
Emily Kang had 36 digs in the back row in another strong game, and Avery Schutz earned the praise of her coach, with 16 assists, 14 digs, and two aces. Jessie McCoy also added 13 assists, and was credited with helping the Tigers spread out their offense and keep Rainier off-balance.
“Her and Avery did a good job mixing it up and getting all of our hitters involved,” Dailey said. “It kept Rainier guessing all night.”
At the net, Keira O’Neill had 18 huge kills with two blocks, and Morgan Hamilton adding nine kills and 10 digs, with both controlling play at the net nearly all night. Grace Gall added some strong serve-receive and nine digs.
“She’s usually really consistent on placement of where she hits,” Dailey said of Gall. “She does a really good job and doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, she’s a really consistent hitter.”
Dailey also credited Anna Thompson for strong play at the net, with lots of touches and tips that affected how Rainier played offense.
“We wanted to beat them in three to make a statement,” Dailey said. “Rainier is a good team, they have some kids that have a ton of potential. They’re going to be a team to be reckoned with in the future, we didn’t look past them and wanted to give them our best effort.”
Rainier was led by Acacia Murphy’s 10 kills at middle blocker, Olivia Earsley’s 22 digs at libero, and Brooklynn Swenson’s 26 assists at the setter spot.
The Tigers play on the road against Toledo on Monday before their regular season finale against Toutle Lake on Wednesday, while the Mountaineers play Onalaska at home on Monday and Adna on Wednesday at home.