Arlington’s Emily Mekelburg celebrates her match winning ace against Oak Harbor Thursday evening at Arlington High School on October 24, 2019. Arlington won in straight sets. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Arlington’s Emily Mekelburg celebrates her match winning ace against Oak Harbor Thursday evening at Arlington High School on October 24, 2019. Arlington won in straight sets. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Arlington clinches Wesco 3A/2A volleyball crown

The Eagles top Oak Harbor in straight sets to secure their first league title since 2016.

ARLINGTON — With its toughest roadblock left on the path to a Wesco 3A/2A conference championship, the Arlington High School volleyball team didn’t falter.

The unbeaten Eagles delivered another stellar performance, using a combination of their height advantage at the net and strong serving from the back row, and knocked off second-place Oak Harbor in straight sets Thursday night at Arlington High School to clinch their first league title since 2016.

“It means a lot. We’ve just worked so hard,” Eagles coach Whitney Williams said. “I know I’ve said it before, but we’ve been working all year really for this type of a season. This was really huge. We knew that Oak Harbor was gonna have it out for us. We took control of the game really from the get go. It got a little hairy in the second and the third (sets), but we got it done. It feels awesome. It feels amazing to be undefeated.”

IMPACT

With the win and Snohomish’s loss to Stanwood, Arlington is a league champion for the second time in the past four seasons. The Eagles face Marysville Getchell and Meadowdale, which had a combined record of 6-17 heading into Thursday, with the chance to close out a perfect regular season.

“It’s out of this world, honestly,” Arlington junior libero/defensive specialist Paige Richards said. “Two more games and we’re there. We’re right into districts and on our way to state. It’s in our grasp and in our reach, and we’re hungry.”

With the loss, Oak Harbor remains in second place in Wesco 3A/2A. The Wildcats entered the week a perfect 10-0, but back-to-back losses to fellow league-title contenders Arlington and Snohomish eliminated Oak Harbor from the title race. In order to stay in second at season’s end, the Wildcats will need some help from their conference peers with Snohomish (9-2, 9-2), which is one-half game behind Oak Harbor, holding the tiebreaker over the Wildcats.

FAST START

Arlington came out of the gates red-hot. The Eagles opened the first set with an ace and scored 14 of the first 17 points.

“It was really important for us to set the tone,” Williams said. “We knew that we could do that by serving tough, and we worked on that. I thought we played really well on the service line and that kind of carried us for the rest of the game.”

The fast start proved vital for Arlington in the first set as Oak Harbor outscored the Eagles 12-11 before Arlington came away with a 25-15 first-set victory.

A BIT OF REVENGE

Arlington has taken full advantage at its shots at revenge this season and Thursday night was no different.

All four of the Eagles’ league losses last season came in down-to-the-wire five-set battles, and Arlington has successfully knocked off three (Oak Harbor, Snohomish and Everett) of those teams in straight sets this season. The Eagles can finish the job in their regular-season finale with Meadowdale on Nov. 5.

QUOTABLE

“When you’re this dialed into a game like this, there’s nothing that can pull you out of it, especially with the team we have,” Richards said. “Any mistake just goes to the back of your mind and you forget about it because we’re so uplifting and we’re such a supportive team. We don’t let little things get in our way. We just keep pushing and keep trucking.”

TOP PERFORMERS

Arianna Bilby, sr., Arlington

The Eagles outside hitter delivered nine kills and 13 digs for Arlington.

Emily Mekelberg, soph., Arlington

The Eagles outside hitter recorded 13 kills, four service aces and five digs in the victory.

Jasmine Ford, sr., Oak Harbor

The Wildcats middle blocker had six blocks and two kills for Oak Harbor.

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