Wildcats rebound from upset to stay alive at district | Volleyball

Taylor Nienhuis sets for Kayleigh Harper in the district tournament. Nienhuis had 54 assists and Harper 23 kill in two matches. - John Fisken / Whidbey News-Times
Taylor Nienhuis sets for Kayleigh Harper in the district tournament. Nienhuis had 54 assists and Harper 23 kill in two matches.
— image credit: John Fisken / Whidbey News-Times

Halloween night offered both a trick and a treat at the district tournament for the Oak Harbor High School volleyball team.

The second-seeded and host Wildcats were upset by seventh-seeded Everett 3-2, then Oak Harbor recovered to knock off third-seeded Ferndale 3-0 in the eight-team, double elimination tournament.

Lynnwood defeated Ferndale 3-1 in the opening round, then topped Everett 3-1 to advance to the championship game Saturday at Glacier Peak against Meadowdale.

On the other side of the bracket at GP, the host and fourth-seeded Grizzlies blanked fifth-seed Mount Vernon 3-0, then lost to top-seeded Meadowdale 3-1, who defeated eighth-seeded Shorewood 3-0 in round one. Shorewood lost to Mount Vernon 3-1 in the loser-out match.

Glacier Peak travels to Oak Harbor and Everett to Mount Vernon Thursday, Nov. 3, for 7 p.m. elimination matches.

Those winners face off Saturday at noon in Glacier Peak for the right to meet the loser of the championship game in a battle for the second and final berth to the state tournament.

Oak Harbor seemed out of sync, even in the games it won, as it was stunned 25-16, 17-25, 25-17, 24-26, 12-15 by Everett in round one. The Wildcats defeated the Seagulls twice during the regular season, including a 3-0 shutout just last week.

In game one, Oak Harbor went up 7-2, trailed 10-9, then pulled away for the win.

In the second set, Everett led 14-13 then went on an 8-1 run to secure the win.

Oak Harbor regained the momentum in game three, jumping to a 9-1 lead as Everett never got closer than six points. The early spurt was fueled by an all-around attack. Kayleigh Harper and Janine DeGuzman scored on tips, Roshel Muzzall and Taylor Nienhuis fired kills and Hannah Salmon added an ace and kill.

The Wildcats overcame a poor start and appeared to have the match wrapped up in game four with a 24-22 lead. The Seagulls, however, finished with four straight kills to keep alive.

Everett finished strong in game five as well, taking a 12-11 lead to a 15-12 finish.

Harper led Oak Harbor in the match with 14 kills and three blocks. Muzzall had 12 kills and Nienhuis 30 assists. Christina Alexander recorded 26 digs and DeGuzman 24.

Coach Kerri Molitor said, "I don't know what else we could have done to mentally prepare. I am really pleased how they bounced back and played with focus against Ferndale."

Oak Harbor shook off the Everett upset by methodically putting away the Golden Eagles 25-14, 25-19, 25-15.

The Wildcats went up 8-2 in game one with kills from Harper, Muzzall and Salmons and a Harper-Muzzall block.

In the second set Oak Harbor built a 7-2 lead before the Eagles narrowed the game to 11-9. A 6-0 Wildcat run with kills from Muzzall, DeGuzman and Kelsey Rankin added some cushion.

Oak Harbor held a 13-11 lead in game three, then scored nine straight points that featured four kills from Harper and a kill and block by Muzzall.

Muzzall paced the offense with 10 kills, Harper added nine kills and Nienhuis dished 24 assists. DeGuzman led the D with 20 digs.

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