MOSSYROCK — The Mossyrock volleyball team saw this bump in the road coming all season long. Indeed, it’s the bump the Vikings look forward to every year now. Within the relative breeze that sweep after sweep in the 1B Columbia Valley League has been for them this year, the Vikings get two cracks at legitimate state contenders, and only one chance to take them on in front of their home fans.
And Naselle gave Mossyrock all it could want out of the matchup and all it could handle early, but the Vikings were just too much, coming away with a 23-25, 25-21, 25-17, 25-8 win to stay perfect in league play.
“It took a set,” Mossyrock coach Alex Nelson said. “And I don’t think we played terrible; (Naselle) came ready to play. I would say we did a good job dealing with the adversity. We haven’t seen a lot of losses this season; we need to see them and learn how to bounce back, and that’s exactly what you did.”
It wasn’t even like after falling in a close first set — which Naselle ended on a 5-1 run to snatch it away and briefly quiet the home crowd — the Vikings immediately began exerting their will as they so often do. In the second, the Comets ground out to another late lead, forcing the hosts to right the ship before hitting their stride, and the third started much the same.
“In almost every set, they were ahead of us,” Nelson said. “Not by a lot, but they had the lead. We always talk about how it’s important to start out strong and get on top, but they were starting strong. They were serving well, we struggled a little bit in our serve receive. But I think our hitting outdid them. I rarely saw us tip tonight, which we encourage them not to do a whole lot of. I thought our hitters did a good job going with the adversity. If you don’t do that in volleyball, you can’t play well.”
But both times, Mossyrock pulled out its run exactly when it needed to, led by its star. In the second, Payton Torrey sparked a 7-1 run with three kills to turn a 20-18 deficit into a 25-21 win. And in the third, she turned a 16-14 hole around nearly single-handedly, firing off four aces in a seven-point service run to set the Vikings up for another win.
“She came out strong at the end,” Nelson said. “That’s what I told her, ‘You have to play big in big games.’”
Torrey finished with a match-high 18 kills, added 15 digs for the double-double, and added another ace elsewhere to total five on the night. The rest of the frontline showed up as well; Paige Houghtelling added 10 kills and eight digs, and Hailey Brooks punished Naselle all night long at the net with eight kills on .438 hitting and five solo blocks.
Brooks helped the Vikings take complete control in the fourth set, with a kill, two blocks, and an ace powering the hosts to a 9-2 early lead and forcing Naselle to take both of its timeouts. That ultimately proved to be a misstep, as Caelyn Marshall served up 10 straight points — including four aces — as the Comet serve-receive fell to pieces with no way to stop the momentum.
Erin Cournyer logged 36 assists, while Marshall added 29 to go along with 15 digs and her four aces.
Mossyrock (12-0, 8-0 league) will hit the road next Thursday to go to Pe Ell in the lone matchup of its penultimate week of the regular season. And the Vikings will do so with a win that means just a bit more under their belt.
“It gets us ready for State,” Torrey said. “Ms. Nelson always talks about the endgame, and Naselle is a team that helps us prepare for the endgame.”