After defeating Meadowdale 3-0 in the opening round of the district tournament, the Oak Harbor High School volleyball team challenges unbeaten Snohomish in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8, at Marysville-Pilchuck High School.
The winner of the Oak Harbor/Snohomish match qualifies for the state tournament and plays for the District 1 championship against the winner of Ferndale (16-0) and Stanwood (13-2) at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, at Marysville-Pilchuck. The title game will determine the first and second seeds into the state tournament.
If Oak Harbor (12-3) loses Thursday’s match with Snohomish, it will face the winner of Arlington (10-5) and Everett (11-6) in a winner-to-state/loser-out match at 11 a.m. Saturday at M-P.
Although Snohomish is 15-0 and ranked fourth in the state 3A poll, Oak Harbor coach Kerri Molitor said the Wildcats believe they can beat the Panthers.
The Wildcats “will take on anybody,” she said.
Oak Harbor lost to Snohomish 3-2 (14-25, 25-22, 15-25, 25-21, 9-15) Oct. 16 on the Panthers’ home court in a match that the Wildcats could have won, according to Molitor. Oak Harbor uncharacteristically surrendered more than 20 service aces.
The Wildcats are one of only two teams this season to take two games in a match from the Panthers.
Molitor added that all the teams in the tournament are capable of winning on any given night, and they all, not just Snohomish, concern the Wildcats.
Snohomish, somehow, escaped the conference season without a loss, while all of the other top teams took turns beating each other.
The one non-Wesco team in the district tournament is the favorite. Ferndale, the Northwest Conference champion, is unbeaten and ranked No. 1 in the state.
Oak Harbor 3, Meadowdale 0
Oak Harbor expected a tough match with Meadowdale (9-7) and received one.
The Mavericks entered the night as one of the conference’s hottest teams. Meadowdale started the season by dropping four of its first five matches, including losing 3-2 to Oak Harbor in the season opener Sept. 6.
The Mavericks then won eight of their final 10 matches, including upsetting Arlington 3-2 two nights before facing Oak Harbor in the first round of the district tournament.
Playing before one of the largest home volleyball crowds in school history, the Wildcats prevailed 25-21, 25-17. 25-22.
Getting three kills from Morgan Pease, two tips from Leielle Salinger, and kills from Payton Parks and Leah Quidachay, the Wildcats raced to an 11-4 lead in the first game.
The Mavericks, however, rallied to tie the game at 15-15.
Oak Harbor recovered to go up 19-15. Meadowdale got to within one, 22-21, before the Wildcats secured the win with a Cami Bristow kill.
Oak Harbor raced to another early lead in the second set, jumping out 6-1 behind several Maverick errors, a block by Quidachay and a tip from Salinger.
Meadowdale then went on an 8-2 run to lead 9-8.
From that point, neither team led by more than two until the Wildcats finished with a rush.
Leading 16-15, Oak Harbor outscored the Mavericks 10-2 with the help of three consecutive kills by Parks sandwiched between two kills from Pease.
In game three, Oak Harbor hurt itself early with service errors. The Wildcats led 11-7, but four of the Maverick points came from errant Oak Harbor serves.
The Wildcats settled down and led by three to six points the remainder of the game.
Pease and Salinger finished the night with 14 kills each, while Bristow and Parks had nine apiece; Bristow added three aces.
Leah Quidachay collected 38 assists, while Ceirra Dean and Jaslin Webster had three each.
Pease also led the defense with 15 digs, Dean had 14, Quidachay nine, Bristow eight and Webster seven.
Kelsey Cummins paced Meadowdale with seven kills and 19 digs.
“The kids played really well,” Molitor said. “Each individual was focused on her job, and collectively they played well.”
“You could feel the energy throughout the entire team, including the bench,” she added. “All of them stepped up to play their game.
“The players were excited for each other; every good thing they did, they did it for the team.”
Molitor praised the backing of the home crowd, which included “fans, parents, students, teachers, support staff and extended families.”
“It has been a very joyful season,” Molitor said in regard to the crowd support.