By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
GLACIER PEAK — A season ago, the Glacier Peak girls volleyball team advanced to the 3A state tournament, but failed to leave with a trophy. If the Grizzlies are to improve on that performance this season they will have to hold true to their goal of never giving up, never letting up and always hustling, something that was on display in their 3-0 victory over Mountlake Terrace on Thursday.
After a 25-15 victory in the first set, the Grizzlies’ resolve was challenged by the Hawks in the second set. Glacier Peak started the set looking like it would pick up right where it left off in the first set, building a 6-3 lead, but the Hawks battled back, going on a 5-0 run to take an 8-6 lead. The teams alternated the lead for several points, before the Hawks established control of the set at 19-14 with a block by senior Casey Hynes.
Six points later, with the Hawks up 22-17, the Grizzlies’ defense tightened and their offense strengthened. Glacier Peak went on a 5-0 run to tie the set at 22. Momentum clearly had shifted the Grizzlies way, but the Hawks continued to fight, coming within one point of tying the match at a set a piece. But behind a kill by senior Maddi Ober and two kills by senior Ruby Mensing, the Grizzlies rallied to score the final three points of the second set, taking a 2-0 lead in the match behind the 28-26 victory.
“The girls have made a commitment not to give up and not to let up,” Grizzlies coach Chris Pratt said. “Terrace played us great in the second game and had every reason to win that game. I keep telling the girls if we want to improve on our visit to state last year, these are the things that we need to test ourselves that we can’t do in practice. So, really nice for Terrace to give us a fight and the girls hang in there and persevere.”
On the other side, there was frustration.
“It’s hard to have the lead for almost the whole (set), and have opportunities to close it up,” Mountlake Terrace coach Marietta Snyder said. “Even though it was a close set, we had opportunities to win the thing a couple of times, but we couldn’t shut the door on them.”
In the third set, Mountlake Terrace fought its way to a 5-5 tie, but the Grizzlies’ hustle appeared to frustrate the Hawks yet again. The Grizzlies chased down a ball that appeared well out of reach and Ober somehow returned the ball over the net from outside the pole to keep the point alive. Seconds later senior hitter Maria Darling’s block earned the point for the Grizzlies. From that point on the Grizzlies dominated the set, at one point scoring nine consecutive points, en route to a 25-15 win in the third set and a sweep of the Hawks.
“I get on the girls at practice if they don’t chase after it,” Pratt said. “You can’t do a drill like that where you have girls just scrambling for balls trying to get it back over the net, because it isn’t an efficient use of your practice time. But I tell them when it does happen in practice, ‘Are we trained to get that ball back over? Do we believe that we are going to get that ball back over?’ I think the other girls are beginning to get the picture that, ‘Hey I trust my teammates. Somebody is going to get that ball up. We all need to work together, we’ve got three touches, we’ve got to get it over.’”
Darling and Ober each finished the match with 10 kills, Mensing had 13 kills and three aces and in her first start of the season. Junior Emily Nelson also had three aces for the Grizzlies.
Hynes had five kills and junior Justine Kelly had five kills, 10 assists and 10 digs to lead Mountlake Terrace. The Hawks are 0-3 in league after beginning the season 6-0 in nonconference matches.
“We are just going to have to practice harder,” Snyder said. “We already do practice pretty hard, but we are going to have to expect more out of ourselves. They have a goal and for us to meet that goal we are really going to have to push ourselves.”