Spikers seek consistency for playoff run

Two Wildcats go up for the block during Oak Harbor’s match against Snohomish Tuesday. - Cynthia Woolbright
Two Wildcats go up for the block during Oak Harbor’s match against Snohomish Tuesday.
— image credit: Cynthia Woolbright

If you want to reach your goals you have to consistently strive for them. According to Oak Harbor volleyball coach Kerri Molitor, her girls have a goal to play in the district tournament. To do so they must finish the regular season in the top four of the Wesco North. It’s the consistency part with which the Oak Harbor team is struggling.

Most recently, Oak Harbor put up a mixed set of numbers in their victory against Arlington Thursday going 8-15, 9-15, 15-9, 15-2, 16-14.

Tuesday night’s lost battle against Snohomish is an example of the inconsistent showing thus far by the Oak Harbor girls who “have all the tools to be a dominating team, but can’t quite seem to put it all together,” according to Molitor.

In the first game of the night between Snohomish and Oak Harbor, it was evident there was a lack of communication on the Cats’ side. Balls weren’t being called, frustration was showing and any Oak Harbor playswere fell apart.

Snohomish ran away with the lead 11-1 and a glimmer of composure shown by Oak Harbor near the end wasn’t enough. Snohomish showed solid serving and claimed the first game 15-2.

The Wildcats were the comeback kids in the second game. The Cats struck first by putting four points on the board immediately, including and ace by Camille Merritt and a kill by Heidi McNeill.

Senior Alicia Lancaster kept the Wildcat momentum train going, tossing over two aces.

The miscommunication monkey climbed back on Oak Harbor’s back and Snohomish brought the score 4-5, in the visitor’s favor.

Lancaster showed her hops at the net with a kill, and senior Yolanda Garcia claimed an ace.

Solid Wildcat serving and blocking — a completely different showing of skill than the first game — helped Oak Harbor keep Snohomish under control in game two.

Snohomish tried to run away with it again with some heavy hitting by their experienced team of juniors and seniors, but the good net play of Oak Harbor junior Celeste Garey and her two aces brought the game to 13-12.

“We wanted to win and finally in game two we started playing like it,” captain Nikki Barone said.

A time out call by Wildcats coach Molitor helped derail any Snohomish catch-up momentum. Taking less than 30 seconds, Barone said Molitor told them simply to “pass the ball.”

Oak Harbor listened to their coach, and passed to a second game win 15-12.

A weak blocking game by the Wildcats allowed Snohomish to claim a 6-0 lead in game three. Solid digs by Lancaster and Merritt allowed the Cats to win back the serve and put some points of their own on the board.

Garey and Lancaster also offered a game three highlight with some solid double-team blocking. However, Oak Harbor’s late-breaking effort wasn’t enough and Snohomish won game three 15-5.

Garey and Garcia had some great digs in the first part of game four, but Snohomish’s heavy hitters weighed down Oak Harbor’s defensive attempts.

Lancaster, Garey, Nikki Barone and junior Kristen Barone all showed some great net play with Snohomish ahead 5-11.

Oak Harbor finally showed a unified mindset and reactive play in the final points of game four with incredible rally play by both teams. The crowd filling the gym held their breath but definitely not their enthusiastic cheer to see if their Cats would claim the point.

“It’s was the best rallying we’ve had in a long time, we were really focused and reading each other,” said the team’s captain, senior Nikki Barone.

At times the Cats had to remember not to get too excited from making that great save or smack-down, because Snohomish was dishing it right back with some great rally play of their own.

Oak Harbor gained with the rallies, but Snohomish won game four 15-9 and claimed the match.

As Molitor points out, it is early in the season for league standings. Teams have only played one or two league games so standings are sure to shift.

Still, the Wildcats know getting to the district tournament is all about gaining momentum.

“We need to get a couple of wins under our belt in the beginning so we’re not squeaking by in the end,” Molitor said on Tuesday.

Stat leaders for Tuesday’s game included Heidi McNeill with seven kills and one ace; Alicia Lancaster with five kills, four blocks and two aces; Celeste Garey with four kills and two aces; and Nikki Barone had 20 assists for the night.

Next up: a make up non-league match against Mariner Monday, at 5 p.m.

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