By Geno Ludwig/The Independent Staff
With four matches remaining on their league schedule, the Chewelah Lady Cougars still have a chance to improve their record in conference competition and earn a berth into post-season play.
After hosting league leader Lakeside on Tuesday, the Cougars face off against Riverside and Medical Lake, two teams they defeated in the first round of league matches. They travel to Riverside on Thursday and then return home to meet Medical Lake on the following Tuesday.
They end the regular season at Colville on Oct. 20.
Although improvement was evident among the young players, Chewelah was swept by both Freeman and Deer Park last week. At Freeman, the Cougars were defeated 25-10, 25-21, and 25-13 by the Scotties, who currently share first place with Lakeside. Back home on Thursday, Deer Park won three straight sets 25-13, 25-17, and 25-17 to remain in third place.
Chewelah remains in sixth place with a 2-8 league record. The Cougars must dispose of Riverside and Medical Lake to retain their position on the league ladder and to qualify for the district tournament. Only the first six teams advance. The bottom two are eliminated.
Freeman used its strong front row play to hammer the Cougars on Tuesday. Getting the ball set to their hitters is a traditional trait of the Scotties, and Chewelah was on the receiving end of repeated slams from across the net.
Elizabeth Chalmers was Chewelah’s spotlight player up front with six kills and six assists. Jaelynn Skok had three ace serves and nine digs. Skyla Tunison had two blocks.
Chalmers had an even better night against Deer Park on Thursday, finishing the match with 10 kills, six assists, four blocks, and six digs.
Altogether, Chewelah hammered 24 kills, which was not enough to put the visiting Stags back on their heels. Bailey Smith had four kills. Krislyn Koler, Tunison, and Skok each had two. Tunison also scored on three block-kills. Elle Carpenter led the team in assists with eight. She and Chalmers combined for 14 Cougar assists. This remains to be the skill that Chewelah must improve to become more competitive.
Skok finally got some relief in the back row. Koler had her best defensive match of the season with 16 digs against Deer Park. Skok had seven and Chalmers had six.
Skok had Chewelah’s lone ace serve.
However, overall serving errors by the Cougars were limited to six, which was an improvement.
Kills by Chalmers, Smith, and Tunison kept Chewelah in the first set as the Cougars battled the Stags to a 10-10 tie. Then, they never scored another offensive point, allowing Deer Park to take control at the net, which led to a 25-13 loss.
Chewelah started the second set in a 0-4 hole, but the Cougars rallied back behind the hitting of Chalmers to close the scoring gap to 4-6. Points scored by Koler and Tunison through the middle of the set kept the Cougars close at 8-9, but then another scoring drought let the Stags go on another run that gave Deer Park a six-point lead, 11-17.
Although the Chewelah offense revived with kills from Chalmers, Koler, and Smith, the Cougars were unable to shrink the gap on the scoreboard, losing the set by a 25-17 score.
Chewelah led the third set by as many as seven points, but eventually lost it. Kills by Koler and Smith, combined with ace serves from Chalmers and Skok gave the Cougars a 9-3 lead. A couple of Deer Park errors widened the lead to 11-4.
However, Chewelah did not pound another offensive point until Ellie Wharton’s kill, and Deer Park used that lull on the Cougar side of the net to narrow the score to 13-12. Now, with the momentum on their side, the Stag gals continued to rally, taking the lead and finishing with a 25-17 come from behind victory. Cougar kills from Chalmers and Smith could not halt the Deer Park attack. With the loss in the third set, Chewelah yielded the match in three sets.
The Lady Cougars are now powering up to face Riverside and Medical Lake on Thursday and Tuesday.