Prep Volleyball: Mossyrock, Morton-White Pass Hope for Deep Run at State Volleyball Tournament

By Matt Baide

mbaide@chronline.com

Mossyrock and Morton-White Pass are set to compete in the State 2B volleyball tournament at the Yakima SunDome beginning on Thursday.

The Vikings open up the tournament at 8 a.m. against Walla Walla Valley Academy. Mossyrock defeated the Knights last year in the opening round in five sets. WWVA is 18-2 overall this season and was undefeated in nine league games.

The Vikings will be without their normal setter in Shania Hadaller this tournament, so Mossyrock has changed their lineup and will be using an unconventional lineup with three different setters in Morgan Houghtelling, Andee Nelson and Faith Mulligan all in setting positions at state. Amy Fitzhugh was the setter during the district tournament for the Vikings.

“It looks like a tough draw, we expect it to be tough. We look forward to going to state, we’ll be playing some new options we’ve been working hard to look at some new lineups,” Mossyrock coach Alex Nelson said. “Our setter is hurt right now. We’ve played around with the lineup and the girls are excited with this new lineup we have.”

Mossyrock is no stranger to the state tournament, finishing second the last two seasons. The Vikings faced Colfax in the state finals in 2017, falling in five sets but came from behind down 2-0 to force a fifth set. In 2016, Mossyrock faced Kalama in the finals and led 2-1 before falling in five sets, including a 15-13 fifth set.

Coach Alex Nelson believes that the experience gained by the Vikings the last two seasons will help them this season, even without the core of seniors from last year’s team.

“Definitely that helps, there’s the expectation that we can compete. We have girls that did get a chance and did get to compete in the last tournament,” Nelson said. “Faith (Mulligan), Andee (Nelson), Heather (Edgar), they were big parts of the team. They played at a really high level and they’re anxious to get back to the state tournament.”

If the Vikings win their opening match, they might run into a familiar opponent if Kalama is able to defeat Northwest Christian (Colbert) in their opening match. The Chinooks have had the Vikings’ number this season, earning wins in both meetings during the regular season.

“We want to make it past the first day. It’s a difficult thing, there are lots of competitive teams there,” Nelson said. “It’s a different atmosphere there if you’ve never been there. There are five courts going on at the same time. There’s an advantage having already been there with experience in fighting through the bracket.”

The T-Wolves start the tournament at 8 a.m. against Liberty (Spangle). The Lancers finished the season 18-8 overall and won the Northeast 2B District Championship match 3-1 against Asotin last Thursday.

Morton-White Pass is back in the state tournament for the first time since 2014. The T-Wolves are happy to be back at state, but aren’t satisfied with just making it to the state tournament.

“Hopefully the girls can pick it up. They’re wanting to do well over there, not just show up and be like oh we made state,” MWP coach Tammy Kelly said. “They’re working hard and they’re playing more consistent right now.”

MWP finished fifth in the Central 2B League and was able to earn a spot in the state tournament after earning wins against Onalaska and South Bend in loser out matches to punch their ticket. The T-Wolves are the six seed out of District 4 after falling to Mossyrock on Saturday and lost a coin flip to Wahkiakum.

It will be a tough road for both teams in the tournament, but each hopes to come away with some hardware on Friday afternoon.

“Go back and get hardware. That’s always our goal, that’s something the girls are looking for,” Nelson said. “They want hardware again, we’re hoping to do that again.”

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