Bearcats Mount Comeback to Defeat Centralia
By Matt Baide
W.F. West was down two sets to one, and then down 13-11 in the final set, but managed to come back in both situations to earn a 3-2 win over Centralia in an Evergreen 2A Conference rivalry volleyball match in Chehalis on Tuesday.
The Bearcats won for only the second time in league play against Centralia in the last 11 years.
“My girls showed a ton of heart, especially being down. We get that first one, that high energy, and then back to back losses to them, a lot of teams would check out but my girls have proven to me time and time again that they’re there,” W.F. West coach Emily Mora said. “They’ve got each others’ backs and that’s where you start to see magic kind of happen and that excitement and packing the crowd. That’s all people want to come and see — the heart, the passion, the hard work.”
W.F. West’s Makenzie Moore recorded 19 kills and 21 digs, and Ashlyn Whalen also added 21 digs. Ashlee Vadala tallied nine kills and 17 digs, and Megan Pallas had five kills and four blocks for the Bearcats.
Kylie Sharp led Centralia with 21 digs, and Rachel Wilkerson added 17 digs and a team-high 15 kills. Chelsea Petrino tallied 12 kills and 14 digs and Mckenna Smith and Joelle Mettler each recorded six kills for the Tigers.
The Tigers are still a bit too inconsistent, according to coach Neil Sharp.
“After we got a little shell-shocked in that first set, we settled in and played the way that we know we can play in the second and third sets,” Centralia coach Neil Sharp said. “Then we let off the gas in the fourth set and it cost us. We let W.F. West hang around the whole set and they got the last couple points there at the end.”
The Bearcats jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the first set, and eventually winning 25-11.
“We had to just reset and worry about controlling our side of the court. We were a mess defensively and offensively that set, but I’m glad the girls were able to bounce back in the second and third,” Sharp said. “One of the things that we talked about is we’ve got to make sure we’re prepared to win that first set. This is the third match in a row where we’ve laid an egg coming out of the gate. That’s a challenge to them if they want to stop giving away matches.”
Centralia responded in the second set with a tidy 25-10 win. The third set was closer, but the Tigers were in control the whole way and won 25-18, prompting Mora to rally her team before the fourth set.
“We want to be a team that recovers quickly from mistakes,” Mora said. “We want to be a team that fights hard even if the stakes are down and things don’t seem like they’re going right. I think the girls proved that we’re making huge strides towards that.”
The Bearcats took that message and rallied in the fourth set to win 25-23 and force a fifth set. The fifth set was tight, with neither team gaining more than a two-point lead. The Tigers had the 13-11 lead, but four straight points from the Bearcats gave the hosts the win.
W.F. West (5-4, 3-2 league) has a day to recover before welcoming defending state champion Tumwater to Chehalis on Thursday. Centralia (13-6, 2-3 league) is on the road again on Thursday, facing Rochester in an EvCo match.