LAKE STEVENS — Just two games into the 4A Wesco North volleyball schedule, a case can be made that Lake Stevens is in the driver’s seat after Thursday night’s convincing 3-1 victory over the Snohomish Panthers. The Vikings won by set scores of 25-17, 14-25, 25-19 and 25-18.
With the win, the Vikings moved to 2-0 in the conference and 7-1 on the season.
“This is a huge for us and Snohomish is our big rival,” Lake Stevens coach Amy Wiklund said. “That’s the game that we have been prepping for and that we really wanted to take. This is the team that we have been looking forward to beating.”
Wiklund said the Vikings victory served two purposes.
“We learned that we are a good enough team to play at a higher level than maybe the girls thought they could,” Wiklund said. “But we also still have some weaknesses that we need to work on.”
The Vikings earned the victory by entering the match with a plan. They wanted to establish intensity in every set and build a comfortable lead. Ultimately, Wiklund said the team wanted to win each set by five points or more. In the three sets the Vikings did win, they accomplished that goal.
“In games one, three and four we definitely did that,” Wiklund said. “They followed through. We had an expectation that we wanted to win by at least five and we did. Game two was a little bit of craziness where they lost focus, but it was nice to see them come back and figure it out.”
The Vikings may have lost focus in the second set, or they may have just fell victim to one of the state’s best players. Snohomish outside hitter Lanesha Reagan took the team on her shoulders, putting away 11 of her 30 kills in the second set, a 25-14 win for the Panthers. She also had an 85 percent kill percentage in Snohomish’s lone set victory.
“It’s one of those things that everybody knows the ball will probably go to her in that situation and I tell her that everybody knows that,” Snohomish coach Alex Tarin said. “She just has to put the ball away. She is a special athlete that can do that.”
For Wiklund, she was impressed with the way her team stayed focused and persevered when Reagan got hot.
“I’m so proud of them for believing that they are good enough to play with her and even above her,” Wiklund said. “Because she’s a great player. It’s fun to see the kids all rally together with a plan of attack against her and then follow through on it. They planned for that and they did exactly what they planned for.”
While Reagan put away most of the balls for Snohomish, the Vikings offense was balanced. McKayla Huntley had seven blocks and 10 kills, Kahlia Kelliher finished with nine kills and Amber Dalgleish, a sophomore playing in just her second varsity match, had 34 assists.
“The great thing about this team is that we have five hitters that can rotate all over the place and evenly kill the ball, which is great,” Wiklund said. “We are not relying on one person or two people. It makes it a lot more fun and I think that creates a little bit more team unity which makes them play better.
Despite the loss on Thursday, Wiklund expects Snohomish will be just fine.
“They’ve got a lot of great players over on that side and when they put it together it’s great,” she said. “I don’t discredit anything they’ve got. Our next time we play them will be just as prepped and intense.”
And though the Panthers loss brings them to 1-1 in league and 4-4 overall when they entered the season voted as the favorite in the Wesco North by the coaches, Tarin isn’t worried either.
“It’s just another match,” Tarin said. “We’ve got six more (league) matches to go and we will see how the season plays out. You never know.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org