SNOHOMISH — With the regular season winding down, the Snohomish and Archbishop Murphy high school volleyball teams met Wednesday night with a chance to take over sole possession of first place in Wesco 3A/2A.
The Wildcats struck early with a victory in the first set, but the Panthers made sure that’s all they’d get.
Snohomish answered back with a win in the second, a come-from-behind rally in third and pulled away late in the fourth frame to secure a 21-25, 25-14, 25-22, 25-18 victory over Murphy in a clash of league unbeatens.
The Panthers (12-1 overall, 12-0 league) now hold a one-game lead over Murphy (11-1, 11-1) and Meadowdale (12-2, 11-1) in the Wesco 3A/2A standings with just three conference matches left for each.
“I’m really proud of these girls,” Snohomish coach Morgan Doyle said. “… They surpassed all of my hopes. They did amazing.”
It was an all-around performance for the Panthers. They received big points from hitters Liv Harrison, Kelsey Nichols Tyler Gildersleeve-Stiles and Adriannah Galvan on hard spikes. The backline hustled to chase down balls and keep points alive, and senior setter Ayla Grant was in the middle of it all dishing out passes and finding holes in the Wildcats defense by dumping well-placed shots.
“Overall the team worked very well together,” Doyle said, “and they came together on every play.”
After dropping a back-and-forth first set, Snohomish roared back in the second. The Panthers used a 10-1 run to grab a commanding 19-8 and Reagan Bullock’s ace ended the frame.
The Wildcats stormed out to an 11-6 lead in the third on the strength of 6-0 run. Snohomish called timeout and took nine of the next 12 points for a 15-14 lead. The teams went back and forth until Harrison tipped a soft shot that the Wildcats couldn’t handle for the set point.
“I feel like at that point it was more about being vocal on the court and making sure that we didn’t get in our heads,” Doyle said of any adjustments made during the timeout. “… We had to kind of brings things back up to our level.”
The Panthers used a pair of late runs to secure their victory in the fourth. Snohomish took seven of nine points to gain a 19-15 advantage and closed the set by scoring the final five points. Nichols spiked a ball in the middle of the defense that couldn’t be handled to seal the win.
“I think it was just such a success for our team,” Harrison said. “We’ve been working so hard this year. … It’s really paid off. I think we just played for each other, and it was such a good team effort.”
Murphy’s Alishia Nichols delivered a string of consecutive aces in the first for a 13-11 advantage. Murphy extended its lead to 21-16 after a 6-2 run, and Tatum Gill’s hard spike just inside the line give the Wildcats the first set.
Kelsey Nichols had 16 digs and nine kills, Harrison nine digs, eight kills and three aces and Grant 25 assists, 11 digs, four kills and two aces for the Panthers.
Alishia Nichols recorded 17 digs, 16 assists, eight kills and five aces and Gill added 12 kills and 11 digs for Murphy.
With the victory, Snohomish now has the inside track on the Wesco 3A/2A title. The Panthers still have two challenging matches left during their closing stretch, with Meadowdale on Oct. 27 and fourth-place Lynnwood on Nov. 1 in their regular-season finale.
“We’ve been working towards these last few games,” Harrison said. “We knew it was going to be a challenge tonight. In practice we’ve been dedicated and staying for extra (time). We’ve just been giving it all. … These next few weeks are going to be challenging for us, and I think winning tonight just gives us the motivation to keep doing better.”
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