Haataja helps Jackson avenge its lone loss

MILL CREEK — Just about everything went right for Jackson senior Leigh-Ann Haataja Thursday night in her team’s final home game of the volleyball season, with one exception.

The Portland State-bound senior almost single-handedly crushed Edmonds-Woodway in a 25-16, 25-18, 25-20 Wesco South win, but the life-sized poster of her — next to the other Timberwolves seniors taped on the wall of the Jackson gym — wouldn’t stick and fell to the ground.

It was only a minor blemish on an otherwise perfect Senior Night for Haataja, who tallied a game-high 13 kills and hit a scorching .764.

“She had a great game,” first-year Jackson coach Ashley Allen said. “She really came out and she was fighting. It’s probably the best I’ve seen her play all season. They had a hard time putting the block against her.”

It was an especially sweet win for the Timberwolves (7-1 Wesco South, 11-2 overall) for many reasons on top of the fact that it was the team’s final regular season home game. The victory avenged the team’s only league loss — the league opener at Edmonds-Woodway — and all but clinched the Wesco South crown. Either a Jackson victory in its final match Monday against winless Cascade or an E-W loss means a championship.

Although it’s a nice accomplishment, Haataja and the rest of the team, ranked fifth in the state, have bigger goals.

“We want to go out winning state,” Haataja said. “We’ve been training all year. From the first day we’re like, ‘We are going to win state.’

“We set that as our goal and we are going to achieve it.”

It’s hard to doubt the T-Wolves’ seniors who turned in another solid game. Libero Malisa “Missy” Marasigan recorded 24 digs and opposite hitter Kristen Ryan hit .500 with four kills.

In the first match against the Warriors Jackson was without five players, including Haataja, who were penalized for breaking a team rule. Right away Thursday, Jackson showed it was the better team with its full roster.

Jackson cruised to victory in the first game behind the six kills of Haataja. She also had a key block on game point, denying E-W’s Sydney Donaldson at the net for the clincher.

“We had a tough loss to them in the beginning of the season,” said Allen. “We were missing five girls. It was one of those things where they wanted to come out they wanted revenge. They wanted to beat this team.”

In the second game the Warriors came out strong, taking their first lead of the night at 9-8 when Falanika Tuuamalemalo put down her second straight Ace. A Haataja kill evened the score at 12 and the Warriors had no answer for the T-Wolves attack for the rest of the game. Haataja closed this one out as well giving Jackson the 25-18 win.

E-W coach Nicole Bordeaux thought the mental side of the game was her team’s undoing.

“It’s a little bit of a mental game when you play a team that’s ranked,” Bordeaux said. “I think the mental aspect got to us today.”

E-W led the third game 14-13 before Miah Diirell put down three consecutive aces and the T-Wolves never looked back, going on a 7-0 run. The sophomore missed the previous game against Kamiak with an illness, but, having attended Edmonds-Woodway last year, Diirell was not going to miss this one. Her aces were part of Jackson’s 19-4 advantage in first-serve points on the night

Despite the loss Bordeaux was proud of her the Warriors (6-2, 6-7).

“Jackson is a great team,” she said. “They put the ball down. They block well… They will go far this season.”

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