LYNNWOOD — In nonleague matches to start the volleyball season, Everett emerged as the early favorite in the Wesco 3A with impressive victories over Stanwood, Glacier Peak and Meadowdale.
The Seagulls knew they would face those teams again in matches that counted in the standings, and the first of those matches didn’t go so well for the Seagulls.
Meadowdale defeated the Seagulls in four sets on Tuesday — 25-19, 25-12, 26-28, 25-16.
“It helps to see a team once already,” Meadowdale coach Machen Shrum said. “We had an idea of what Everett was like.”
What the Seagulls were like the first time around is what the Shrum wanted the Mavericks to become — a great defensive team. In the matches since the first meeting between the two teams, the Mavericks have taken strides that have pleased their coach.
“We’ve been really working hard since we played Everett to improve our defense,” Shrum said. “We wanted to be more like the defensive team we saw the first time we played Everett. It’s been a big focus on every single practice, to be a stronger defensive team. I definitely saw a stronger defense (tonight), in the hitting and also in the block coverage.”
In the first match, Meadowdale didn’t have a single block kill. The Mavericks worked on it the following day in practice and it showed in their next match against Edmonds-Woodway. That practice has continued to carry over as the Mavericks used several timely block kills to pull away from the Seagulls on Tuesday.
“McKenna (Williams), my middle (hitter) had a couple of big ones at important times,” Shrum said. “I’ve noticed on most teams, but especially my team, there is nothing like a block kill to get them riled up and excited at the end of a game. Those are big points.”
Everett’s height at the net gave the Mavericks some trouble throughout the match, but Meadowdale continued to find ways to hit over and around the block.
“They are pretty tall, but fortunately we have a couple of tall girls in Sloane (Morrison) and McKenna,” Shrum said. “That’s part of the defense that we’ve been working on is how to battle against kids that are taller and blockers that are bigger. We are putting ourselves in situations every day, or trying to, to copy those teams that are bigger and when they are hitting over the block how do we pick those up. It’s something that we’re working on.”
The Mavericks started to take control in the first game when the teams were tied at 15-15. Meadowdale scored 10 of the set’s final 14 points to win 25-1, capped off by back-to-back Sloane Morrison kills close it out.
In the second set, the Mavericks used a 9-0 run to turn a close game into a runaway and put themselves one set away from victory.
Everett stayed alive with a 28-26 win in the third set, but it wasn’t easy. The Seagulls led 24-22 before the Mavericks rallied to take a 25-24 lead and had a serve for the match. The teams traded the next two points before the Seagulls scored three consecutive points to force a fourth set.
The Mavericks were too much in the fourth set and closed out the match avoiding a decisive fifth set, something Shrum was happy to see.
“The confidence level for the girls (in earlier matches) when they had gotten into that situation I could see it going down and I could see it in their faces,” Shrum said. “It is tough because we know they’re good and we know they’re a strong team so in our heads we are kind of waiting for them to comeback and see them fight like we’ve seen them fight before. The difference tonight was just I saw a total confidence in my girls face.”
Meadowdale’s defense was better, but its offense was equally impressive. The balanced Mavericks attack was led by Morrison, who finished with 16 kills, three aces and 13 digs. Kaylan Cummins chipped in 16 kills, Gabby Mahler added nine and Michaela Meyer had eight. Tara Fishback had 47 assists and Amy Rickel had 28 digs.
“We were really happy with the overall team play,” Shrum said. “Something we strive for is the team chemistry. They really played as a team tonight. I think Tara Fishback, my setter, did a really good job of distributing the ball to different areas and all different hitters and the hitters all stepped up.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at email@example.com.
At Meadowdale H.S.
Everett 19 12 28 16 — 1
Meadowdale 25 25 26 25 — 3
Highlights—Everett: Sydney Taggert five blocks, five kills; Tenika Wentworth 27 assists. Meadowdale: Sloane Morrison 16 kills, three aces, 13 digs; Amy Rickel 28 digs; Kaylan Cummins 16 kills; Gabby Mahler nine kills; Michaela Meyer eight kills; Tara Fishback 47 assists. Records –Everett 0-1 league, 5-2 overall; Meadowdale 1-0, 4-2.