MUKILTEO — Hoping desperately for an incredible come-from-behind victory, a massive group of Kamiak volleyball fans bounced in the bleachers, roared for the Knights and waited for the magical wave of momentum to crest.
Then the wave died. Kamiak rooters can blame hard-hitting Melina Seabrook and the rest of the Monroe Bearcats.
Seabrook, an outside hitter, drilled several of her 17 total kills near the end of an intense game four and the Monroe High School volleyball team beat Kamiak 3-1 Tuesday in a season-opening match at Kamiak High. Combining with Seabrook to give Monroe a devastating outside-hitting combo, Meagan McPhetridge smacked 18 kills and helped the Bearcats topple Kamiak by game scores of 25-20, 25-22, 25-27, 28-26.
In the final game, Kamiak tied it at 24-24 and 25-25, igniting the school’s raucous student section. But Seabrook smashed kills that gave Monroe three of the final four points and the match win.
“It was a great way to start the season,” said McPhetridge, a four-year varsity player and third-year starter. “There’s something about beating a team that’s your rival starting off the season. It gives us so much energy and excitement and starts us on a positive note.”
Monroe — the co-favorite with Marysville-Pilchuck this year in the Class 4A Western Conference North Division, according to The Herald’s preseason coaches’ poll — clicked immediately and won the first two games. But Kamiak, local coaches’ pick to finish second behind favorite Jackson in the 4A Wesco South, regrouped and made things interesting.
Sparked by powerful outside hitter Bryce Larson and setter Ally Bowles, the Knights surged to an 11-2 lead in game three and won it 27-25, avoiding a Monroe sweep. In the final game Kamiak clawed back from a 24-18 deficit, but the Knights were unable to force a winner-take-all game five.
“Volleyball’s a game of momentum,” Kamiak coach Natalie Bowie said, “and when you’re sitting on the bench and you’re looking at the crowd and they’re all standing on their feet and they’re screaming and they’re yelling — it’s a glorious moment. It’s incredible.”
“The hard part,” Bowie added, “is feeling like you let the fans down when you lose the game.”
The team’s downfall was inconsistent passing, Bowie said. Larson (18 kills, 12 digs) and Bowles (37 assists) were Kamiak’s statistical leaders.
For Monroe, setter Kendal Munoz accumulated 33 assists, and Nicole Reyling tallied 11 digs and nine aces.
Despite implementing several changes this year — a new defense and several players in new positions, including freshman starter Deidra Miller, a middle blocker — Monroe performed well and impressed Bearcats coach April Munoz.
“Even when they weren’t quite in the right position and (not) comfortable, they really did a great job of maintaining their composure,” Munoz said.
Great team chemistry helped Monroe battle through the tough moments. It’s rare to see such outstanding teamwork and togetherness this early in the season, said Munoz.
“It’s just a great group of kids. I can’t say enough about it,” Munoz said. “They have so much heart and they love each other and they have a good time together and support each other so well.”
Mike Cane: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out the prep sports blog Double Team at www.heraldnet.com/doubleteam.