Volleyball: Wildcats need 2 straight wins to claim state berth

After splitting a pair of games in the opening rounds of the district tournament Wednesday, Nov. 3, in Oak Harbor, the Wildcat volleyball team will have to win two straight Saturday to earn a trip to the state 3A tournament.

Oak Harbor began tournament play by defeating Glacier Peak in a come-from-behind 3-2 thriller, then dropped a winner-to-state match to Ferndale 3-0.

The Wildcats (11-5) now challenge Mount Vernon (9-7) at noon Saturday, Nov. 6, as the district tournament concludes at Glacier Peak High School. If Oak Harbor wins, it will need to win its 2 p.m. match against the winner of Shorewood and Glacier Peak to grab the third and final seed to state.

Ferndale (11-5) and Mount Vernon finished fifth and sixth in the Northwest 1A/2A/3A Conference behind four smaller schools during the regular season but were the top two 3A schools, thus earning a trip to the 3A district.

In the first two rounds of the other district bracket at Glacier Peak Wednesday, Shorewood defeated Mount Vernon and Meadowdale topped Mountlake Terrace. Meadowdale then stopped Shorewood 3-2 to earn a spot in the district finals against Ferndale to determine the top two seeds heading to state.

Mount Vernon beat Mountlake Terrace 3-1 in the loser-out match.

In the losers' bracket in Oak Harbor, Glacier Peak defeated Everett to send the Seagulls packing. In round one, Ferndale dumped Everett 3-1.

Oak Harbor fought off upset-minded Glacier Peak 23-25, 25-23, 19-25, 25-19, 15-12 in its first round district win. The Wildcats defeated the Grizzlies (6-9) twice during the regular season.

In game one, Glacier Peak erased an early 5-2 Oak Harbor lead to tie it at 5. Neither team led by more than two the rest of the way.

Kristine Bouchard had three kills and three blocks, Janine DeGuzman four kills, Amanda Blau three kills and a block and Kayleigh Harper two kills and two blocks for Oak Harbor.

The Wildcats went up 10-2 in game two but the Grizzlies came back to take an 18-17 lead. From there it was a one-point game until the 'Cats pulled out the 25-23 win.

Bouchard's four kills and two aces and Blau's four kills led the Wildcats.

GP pulled away from a 15-15 tie to win game three. Roshel Muzzall recorded three kills and an ace and Blau three kills to top the Oak offense.

Down by three early, Oak Harbor recovered to tie the score at 9 and gradually pulled away for the 25-19 game-four win. DeGuzman's four kills and three from Muzzall led the way.

In the decisive fifth game, it looked bleak for Oak Harbor as it fell behind 0-4 and 3-7. A stuff block and kill by Bouchard, a kill by Blau and two by Harper helped turn the tide as Oak Harbor knotted the score at 12. A Bouchard/Jordan Faralan block, a Grizzly hitting error and Kelsey Terrazas-Cooley's ace sealed the win.

Oak Harbor coach Kerri Molitor said, "Glacier Peak was a lot tougher than they were in league. They really stepped up their game. We knew they would be motivated to play us, and we knew we would have to fight."

Molitor made several changes including inserting freshman middle hitter Harper into the starting lineup and called her play "impressive."

Molitor added that the change may have been a factor in the Wildcats' slow start: "We had a different starting line-up than we have been working with, so we were a little more tentative than normal. However, they made it work, and I am really proud of them."

Ferndale was in control from start to finish against Oak Harbor.

In game one the Golden Eagles jumped out early and lead by as many as seven. A late surge by the Wildcats trimmed it to three, 24-21, but Oak Harbor could not climb all the way back. Muzzall ripped three kills while Blau, Bouchard, DeGuzman and Faralan had two each.

In game two, Ferndale buried Oak Harbor early with a 15-3 lead. Blau, Bouchard and Janessa Ramos had two kills each.

Game three was tight until the Eagles broke away from a 19-19 tie to finish the set on a 6-1 run.

Ramos and Katelyn Bristow topped Oak Harbor with three kills apiece.

Molitor, commenting on the two matches, said, "I think we pulled together and had tremendous effort from the whole team. It was an emotional night. We are very excited to have a win under our belt and are looking forward to Saturday."

Oak Harbor last reached the state tournament in 1991. After finishing fourth in the league standings, it was a surprise district finalist against teams from Wesco and Kingco. At state, however, Oak Harbor was 0-3 in pool play.

That appearance marked the end of a run of eight state tournament berths in 10 years for the Wildcats.

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