MILL CREEK — Snohomish senior Lanesha Reagan had never beaten Jackson in her stellar volleyball career with the Panthers.
After a 29-kill, 15-dig performance Thursday, she won’t graduate with that spot on her resume. Snohomish defeated the Timberwolves 3-2 by set scores of 26-24, 18-25, 25-19, 15-25 and 15-9 to remain unbeaten this season.
“It was a little surreal,” Reagan said. “I didn’t think we would actually do it because every year we are so close and we would kind of like inch up, but we’ve never actually done it. So it felt just amazing.”
Both teams came into the match 2-0 in league and 5-1 overall and Snohomish head coach Alex Tarin fully expects the Timberwolves to be near the top of the standings when the regular season concludes.
“It feels good to beat a team like this,” Tarin said. “They are going to be in the top one or two by the end of the season. To get a win this early against them feels real good.”
The Timberwolves made the Panthers work for it. Snohomish led through most of the first set before Jackson rallied back to tie it 24-24. Reagan fired back with consecutive kills to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead in the match.
As they did for most of the evening, the Timberwolves had an answer. Jackson won the second set 25-18 to even the match at a set apiece.
In the third set, it was the Panthers who dominated. After winning 25-19 they were just a set away from victory and seemed to have all the momentum.
But it didn’t carry over into the fourth set. Jackson built an early lead and cruised to a 25-15 win to force a decisive fifth set.
Tied 9-9 in the final set it seemed the stage was set for a dramatic finish. The Panthers erased any thoughts of such an ending by scoring the match’s final six points.
“I think our attitudes changed,” Reagan said. “Up until nine we were back and forth the entire time, one point them and then one point us. Finally we were like, ‘OK, we want to win this game. Let’s get our heads in the game and go out there and win.’”
Fittingly the match ended with a kill from Reagan.
The Timberwolves aren’t the team that competed for a state championship each of the past three seasons and won it four years ago. But by taking the Panthers to the brink, Jackson did prove it is still one of the best teams in the league.
“I think we learned a little bit about ourselves in that we do have the ability to finish,” Jackson head coach Mindy Staudinger said. “It’s something we haven’t done very well and we did tonight in a couple of sets. The very last set, the 11th, 12th and 13th points for Snohomish were unforced errors. If we clean that stuff up, it could be a different outcome.”
The Timberwolves also proved that they could slow down Reagan, who has been named the Max Preps Washington State Player of the Week in back-to-back weeks.
“”We did OK at the middle and end of the match,” Staudinger said. “We started to figure stuff out. At the same time, we could do better than that.”
Tarin said increased success against Reagan was a combination of what the Timberwolves were doing well and what the Panthers weren’t.
“They put up a better block,” Tarin said. “Our passing wasn’t where it should have been so our sets weren’t where they should have been. We weren’t putting her in a position to succeed.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Jackson H.S.
Highlights–Jackson: Payton Locknane 16 kills, eight digs; Natalie O’Hare 39 assists; Mary Epps 11 kills; Hannah Hicks 10 kills. Snohomish: Lanesha Reagan 29 kills, 15 digs; Cyrene Hertzog 23 digs, six aces; Mackenzie Harris nine kills; Kendle Valade-Nunez 25 assists; Emmalee McNeil 20 assists. Records–Snohomish 3-0 league, 6-1 overall. Jackson 2-1, 5-2.