State 2B Volleyball: Mossyrock Knocks Off Liberty (Spangle) To Reach State Semifinals
By Chris Johnson / The East County Journal
Coach Alex Nelson couldn’t have asked for a better birthday present as the Mossyrock Vikings advanced to the state semifinals for the fourth consecutive season with a 25-22, 25-22, 19-25 and 25-16 win over the 6th-ranked Liberty Lancers.
The Vikings’ biggest deficit in the first two sets was 3-2 in the second set. They won wire-to-wire 25-22 in the first behind eight kills from senior Andee Nelson. Nelson’s bionic arm pounded out nine more kills in set two and carried them to another 25-22 win.
“We didn’t play scared and we played to win,” Coach Nelson said. “Those were key factors. I think seeing two 6-foot girls on the other side of the net showed that we couldn’t be tentative, and we had to go after it. So we did. I think our passing improved a lot so we could get our sets a lot tighter than the first match today. We were hitting our outsides (Andee and Payton Torrey) and trying to stay away from those big girls. I think we had a lot of success with that. Payton came alive and played a lot better.”
Mossyrock led 15-13 in set three before the Lancers went on a 12-4 run to win the set 25-19.
“In the first game today, I put a lot of pressure on myself and we were all terrified because it’s our senior year and we didn’t want to mess it up,” Andee Nelson said. “After we won the first one today, we had one win under our belt so we could just let loose. We played super well. All we have to do to get back to the championship is beat the best team in the state.”
In the final set, the Vikings totaled 12 more kills as they never trailed and clinched their fourth straight trophy. Nelson finished with 29 kills.
“Andee had a great night hitting and Morgan (Houghtelling) had great location on her sets,” Coach Nelson said. “There were lots of players that played well. Our blockers slowed down the ball. Liberty was going to get plenty of hits, as long as we were slowing it down sometimes and making them go around the block. Faith (Mulligan) wasn’t feeling great tonight, but she just passed and dug so many balls. She makes that look so easy. And she served well. And Morgan served well, and Hailey (Brooks) served well with great runs against a good team. In the first match, we struggled to serve three and four in a row.”
The Vikings will face the top-ranked and unbeaten La Conner Braves (18-0) at 11:45 a.m. in a semifinal on Friday morning at the Yakima SunDome.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Coach Nelson said. “We need to put it together and the magic can happen. La Conner is a great team but great teams can get beat.”
First Round Match: Vikings Sweep Walla Walla Valley Academy
Mossyrock admittedly didn’t play their best, but there are no style points in the state tournament. Only win and advance. The No. 2 ranked Vikings did just that in the opening round, defeating the Walla Walla Valley Academy Knights 25-18, 25-22 and 25-21 this afternoon at the Yakima SunDome. This was the third consecutive season that they have beaten the Knights in the opening round of the state tournament.
“We played with some stress and it wasn’t our best game, but we walked away with a 3-0 win,” Mossyrock coach Alex Nelson said. “We know that we didn’t play well, and we also know that we can’t continue to play that way from this point on.”
The Vikings never trailed in the first set, holding at least a four-point lead much of the way. Walla Walla Valley Academy pulled to within a point at 16-15 before Mossyrock ended it with nine of the last 12 points, winning 25-18.
“We have a new combination of girls over here with some veterans and young ones and it’s the first time for some of them,” Nelson said. “They felt the pressure and now we know what it will take to get to the next level.”
Six kills propelled the Vikings to an early 13-6 lead in the second set. They held a comfortable 20-15 lead when four passing errors and two Knight kills gave them a 21-20 advantage. Kills from Mossyrock’s Hailey Brooks, Payton Torrey (2) and Emily Edgar regained a 24-21 lead and they won two points later. Seventeen of the 21 Walla Walla Valley Academy points came on Vikings errors
The Knights scored the first five points of set three. Andee Nelson put away two kills in the next five points as they tied the set 5-5. Walla Walla Valley Academy strung together spurts of points and led 19-16 and 21-18. Nelson pounded a kill for their 19th point and the next six consecutive points went to Mossyrock as they won by four.
“I have a feeling when there is a little bit more expectation that we’ll rise,” Nelson said. “Usually that happens. You face a better team and you play better.”