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State volleyball: Wildcats earn first state win since 1988
The Oak Harbor High School volleyball team didn't know what to expect when it traveled to its first state tournament since 1991, according to coach Kerri Molitor. It found out right away it could play with the state's best.
The Wildcats were competitive in every match and picked up one win in three contests at the 3A state tournament Nov. 12 and 13 at the Toyota Center in Kennewick.
Molitor said the first match against top-ranked West Valley of Yakima was "nerve wracking" because "we didn't know what to expect." She said once her team started playing it realized "we can do this." She added, "I think we surprised a few people."
West Valley was the first to be surprised. Although the Rams won 3-0, they discovered the unranked Wildcats would be no easy mark. The two clubs battled in a tight first game, with West Valley squeaking out a 25-22 win. The Rams prevailed in the next two sets as well, but the scrappy 'Cats made West Valley earn its 25-19, 25-16 wins.
Roshel Muzzall pounded eight kills and Amanda Blau five to lead the ‘Cats. Jordan Faralan had 18 assists and Kelsey Terrazas-Cooley recorded 15 digs.
West Valley went on to finish third in the tournament won by Seattle Prep.
In Oak Harbor's second-round, losers out match with Seattle’s Holy Names High School, the Wildcats dropped the first set 20-25, put rebounded to take three straight: 25-17, 25-13, 25-19. It was Oak Harbor's first win at state since 1988.
Molitor said many of "the girls were fighting sickness." She added, "Jordan (Faralan) and Kelsey (Terrazas-Cooley) were both troopers, keeping a box of Kleenex at hand."
In the final set against Holy Names, Molitor gave setter Faralan a rest and inserted Taylor Nienhuis. Molitor said Nienhuis' "beautiful set" to Muzzall led to the kill that finished off Holy Names.
Oak Harbor then squared off with traditional power and frequent state qualifier Bishop Blanchet of Seattle for the right to reach the final eight and earn a trophy. The Braves knocked off the Wildcats 25-17 in the first set, then Oak Harbor buried Blanchet 25-11, leading at one point 20-3, in game two.
Blanchet, the defending state champions and winners of five straight state trophies, eliminated the Wildcats with wins in the next two games, 25-17, 25-19.
At state a player is awarded a sportsmanship medallion after each match; the Oak Harbor winners were Faralan, Janessa Ramos and Katelyn Bristow.
Molitor concluded by saying, "As with any season, we had our ups and downs. We learned from our failures and our successes. Knowing that we were always working toward common goals, we were an amazing team. It's taken a while to get there (state), and we want to go back."