Wildcats clinch playoff berth with win over Mount Vernon

MOUNT VERNON — There’s no hiding the fact — the last two years were disappointing for the Oak Harbor volleyball team.

Two pigtail games that would have earned the final berth into the district playoffs equaled two failed attempts for the Wildcats.

There won’t be any disappointment this year, however, as OHHS clinched second place in the WesCo North Thursday night, beating Mount Vernon in three games on the road, 25-16, 25-21, 25-23.

“We don’t go to the pigtail, I’m so excited,” head coach Kerri Molitor said after Thursday’s win.

The Wildcats jumped out of the gate early on Thursday, never falling behind in game one.

OHHS senior middle blocker Heidi McNeill set the tone, slamming down six of her 16 kills in the first game.

“Ashley (Kingma) is a really good setter and we had some really good passes, which helps the setter out a lot,” McNeill said. “Our timing was just on I guess.”

Behind solid passing and a strong defense, Oak Harbor continued to dominate in games two and three.

The Bulldogs only provided one big scare in game three, battling back from an eight point deficit to pull within one, 18-17.

Oak Harbor, however, showed how they’ve matured this season. The Cats fended off the rally, eventually winning on an emphatic spike by McNeill.

“They really came together and helped each other out,” Molitor said.

Kingma added 19 assists and Miranda Thiel had 18 digs and Jennifer Muzzall had five blocks.

Oak Harbor 3, Stanwood 1

The Wildcats defended their home court on Tuesday, beating Stanwood in four games, 25-15, 25-23, 20-25, 25-21.

McNeill again led the Wildcats in kills with 18, along with three blocks.

“Heidi’s been playing really well, she’s just been working really hard out there,” Molitor said.

Krystal Rousselle contributed nine kills and five aces, Cassie LaMont had 15 digs and was 100-percent on her serves and Kingma had 36 assists.

Oak Harbor, now 6-1 in league and 11-2 overall, is in sole possession of second place in the WesCo North. Snohomish (7-0, 12-1) is ahead of the Wildcats with one regular season game remaining. According to Molitor, even if Snohomish loses their game to Stanwood and Oak Harbor beats Marysville, the Panthers would win a tie-breaker because they defeated OHHS earlier this year.

As a number two seed, Oak Harbor will face the number three seed from the WesCo South at 4:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 28 at Marysville, followed by one more game.

Likely opponents include Kamiak, Edmonds-Woodway and Jackson.

Regardless of who they face, the Wildcats are just excited to have a guaranteed trip to districts.

“We are in districts,” Molitor said. “That is one our goals that’s eluded us for the last couple of years.”

Monday’s final regular season game against Marysville-Pilchuck begins at 7 p.m in the OHHS gym.

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