(By Geno Ludwig/The Independent Staff)
Bump, set, spike. It is the assembly line sequence in which volleyball is to be played, with the hammered spike being the finished product of the endeavor. Getting the ball to one of the three front row hitters is the objective of every possession.
Chewelah’s inability to get the ball set to its front row hitters cost the Lady Cougars both of their season-opening league matches last week. Chewelah’s girls are definitely not the tallest in the Northeast A, but they do have players who can get above the net to bash the ball, given the opportunity. The Cougars will be working on this throughout the week in preparation for their two league matches.
More scoring opportunities at the net were needed on Tuesday and Thursday nights when the Cougars lost in straight sets to Newport and Freeman. They were edged 26-24, 25-17, and 26-24 by the Grizzlies. They were defeated by the Scotties 25-16, 25-14, and 25-10.
Chewelah was in every game against Newport. It was a match the Cougars could have—and should have—won with a stronger finish in every set. After being behind by seven points, 20-13, the Cougars rallied to gain a 21-20 lead late in the first set on Krislyn Koler’s tip over the Grizzly’s front row. Her kill gave Chewelah a 24-23 lead later in the set. However, a pair of unreturned frozen rope ace serves by Newport ended the Cougar attack and posted a 26-24 win on the Grizzly side of the scoreclock.
Kyrstan Miller ignited the Chewelah come from behind rally with a kill and three serving aces. Elizabeth Chalmers contributed an ace serve and Koler provided a dink shot that Newport failed to return. Those points closed the scoring gap and gave the Cougars a 21-20 lead.
The second set saw Newport slowly pull away for a 25-17 win as Chewelah struggled to get the ball passed to the setter. Still, the Cougars kept the game close, trailing 14-11 midway through the set. The Grizzlies widened the score to 18 -11 on three straight ace serves and a kill, and Chewelah was not able to keep pace.
The Cougars had only five kills through the second set, two by Chalmers, and one each from Andrea Franks, Karilee Desartel, and Miller. An ace serve by Jaelynn Skok was the lone other offensive point scored. The drought of hitting at the net led to a 24-17 Chewelah loss.
The third set against Newport was similar to the first. The Grizzlies had an 18-11 lead, and then the Cougars went on the offensive. Up to went on the offensive. Up to this point, Miller had the one Cougar kill. Now, joined at the net by Skyla Tunison, the pair began to hammer the ball, triggering another Cougar counterattack that led to a 19-all tie.
Chewelah again kept the score tight down the final stretch leading to a 24-24 tie. However, Newport scored the final points for a 26-24 victory to win the set and the match.
On Thursday against veteran Freeman team, the Cougars were dominated in every set, although there were instances where they had highlights. Miller had five kills in the opening set, and Koler had one. Chalmers smashed two kills in the second set and served an ace.
Chewelah also got one kill each from Savannah Nupp and Ellie Wharton. In the third set, Chalmers pounded another two kills, and Bailey Smith had one.
But, in the end, the Cougars were overwhelmed by the perennially powerful Scotties in three straight sets.