By Ian Ferguson
With a 2–2 record in Northwest Conference (NWC) play, the girls volleyball team is showing huge improvement compared to this time last year, when the Borderites were 0–4.
The Blaine volleyball team took on the Squalicum Storm at home September 25, losing three straight sets, then traveled to Meridian September 30 where they won in five sets.
The home match was a series of three grinding sets that all ended with the Borderites on the wrong side of the scoreboard. Blaine struggled to find flaws in the Squalicum defense, and although the Borderites kept many exciting volleys alive through sheer determination, they were no match for Squalicum’s organized formation.
Both teams looked solid in the first game. By mid-match, the score was 11–12 with Blaine trailing. Squalicum went on a six-point spree, leaving the Borderites behind on their way to a 25–15 win.
In the second set, the Borderites appeared to have recovered from the first loss. They showed composure and confidence, especially Elle Moore who stepped up repeatedly with strong kill shots. The match was even for the first half, but then Squalicum again scored a run of unanswered points and Blaine never recovered, falling 25–20.
Set three looked more promising for the Borderites, as they took a 13–11 lead halfway through. Squalicum turned on their afterburners and scored four points in a row, but Blaine recovered and battled to a 16-16 tie, predicated with a kill shot by Mikayla Deming that got the home crowd yelling. Blaine showed grit during several volleys that involved improbable saves on both sides of the net.
“They really fought hard,” said Blaine coach Bryan Clausen. “They were going after balls more aggressively and showing more confidence. If you looked at this team last year, they were a lot more tentative.”
In the end, Squalicum prevailed with their organized defense. After another kill shot from Moore, Squalicum took control of the match and scored seven unanswered points. Blaine delayed the inevitable as Squalicum hovered on game point for four serves, but eventually the Storm scored the final point for a score of 25-20.
Clausen said he saw positives and negatives to take away from the match.
“Our serve receive was great, and overall the girls are playing really well and continuing to improve,” he said. “We had only six serve receive errors in the whole match, which is really good considering we were having 15, 16 serve receive errors in the beginning of the season.”
Against an experienced team like Squalicum, success requires doing the small things right.
“The little things, like getting out of position on those long sets, they come with experience. Squalicum has really good defense and they hit the ball hard, so those little things are important,” Clausen said.
Clausen added that he was particularly pleased with the tenacity and confidence his team showed.
“Overall I’m really pleased with how the girls are coming along. Their hard work is starting to show.”
Elle Moore had 13 kills, Nicole Ortega had 15 digs, Mikayla Deming had seven blocks and Alexis Hallberg served two aces.
Blaine defeated Meridian 3–2 in an away match September 30. Blaine won the first set 25–23, then lost the next two 25–18, 25–21 before winning the fourth and fifth sets 25–15 and 17–15. Deming had 14 kills and six blocks. Moore had 10 kills and 24 digs and Ortega added 17 digs.
Blaine will take on Bellingham at home on Thursday, October 2. The game begins at 7 p.m.