by Ian Ferguson
The Blaine girls volleyball team was one set away from their third Northwest Conference (NWC) win, but the Borderites let it slip away as Bellingham refused to admit defeat. The Borderites lost the October 2 away game to the Bellingham Red Raiders 3–2.
Blaine won the first two sets 25–18 and 26–24. Coach Bryan Clausen said his team came out strong and did everything right early on.
In the third set, Bellingham made a statement by winning 25–13. The Red Raiders are coming off a season with an even record in 2A, where the Borderites won two games out of 14 in 1A. The more experienced team proved they wouldn’t lie down so easily.
The Borderites, by contrast, lacked the “killer instinct” to win their third set.
“When we got into that third set, the girls tightened up,” Clausen said. “Instead of playing to win, they were playing like they were trying not to lose. They played safe instead of aggressive, and they were a little tired and tentative.”
The fourth set could have gone either way, as the teams were even late in the set. Bellingham pulled ahead for the 25–23 win. Tied at two sets apiece, the teams went into a first-to-15 tiebreaker. The Red Raiders pulled ahead early for a 15–8 win that sealed the match.
“Every set was close. Bellingham is a strong and experienced team. They adjusted to our blocking, hit the ball high off our hands, and there wasn’t much we could do about it,” Clausen said. “We just couldn’t seem to put them away.”
Elle Moore led the Borderites with 15 digs and eight kills. Kjirstin Larsen led the team in kills with 10, and Mikayla Deming had nine kills and 14 digs. Alexis Hallberg served four aces.
Overall, despite the loss, Clausen said he’s happy with the progress the team has made thus far.
“Their serve receive is doing a lot better and they’re cutting down their mistakes in every match,” he said. “The girls are doing very well.”
The loss to Bellingham highlighted a lack of confidence that should turn around as the team gains experience, Clausen added.
“We need to get to the point where their confidence is high enough that when they walk into the gym, they know they are going to win. We need to get that mentality. Some girls have it already and they feed off each other. The more experience we get, the more confidence we’ll have and the more we’ll win,” Clausen said.
Blaine’s next game is at Mount Baker on Thursday, October 9. The NWC game begins at 7 p.m.