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Strong serving leads Goldendale past Connell in district opener


Jaryd Cline

The Timberwolves celebrate after scoring against the Eagles on Tuesday in Connell.

After winning the opening set of the first round South Central Athletic Conference District 5 Class 1A Volleyball Tournament match on the road against the Connell Eagles, the Goldendale Timberwolves faced an 18-24 deficit late in the second set.

With sophomore Tori Tallman on the service line, the Wolves struck for two straight points and were on their way to another point after a great serve from Tallman. But a Connell player got a hand on the ball, which then hit the net and took an awkward angle as it bounced to the floor out of the reach of the Timberwolves, evening the match at one set apiece.

It was a tough way to drop a set, but the Timberwolves didn't sulk on the loss, they surged through the next two sets for a 3-1 (25-23, 20-25, 25-13, 25-15) win to advance to the district semifinals Saturday at noon against the Naches Rangers.

"I told them it's all about how we respond to adversity," Goldendale head coach Jodi Bellamy said after dropping the second set. "I loved how they came back from that second game loss and went out and really just finished strong."

The Timberwolves indeed finished strong, led by an overall outstanding night at the serving line. As a team, the Wolves converted 91 percent of their serves and committed just seven errors from the backline.

"When Ocean (Bryan) is on a roll, and you get a kill and bring it back, if you serve it into the net she doesn't get that chance," Bellamy said. "Alyssa (Weis) and Sierra (Plum) and Maddie (Cameron) all served very well."

After the Eagles evened the match at one, the Wolves blew the game open early in the third set. With the third set tied at one, Weis, a freshman, served for eight straight points and Bryan, a senior, went on quite the roll, punishing the Eagles with five straight kills as the Wolves went up 9-1 and didn't look back.

Up 22-12 in the same set, Weis served two consecutive aces and Bryan slammed home a thunderous kill moments later to close out the Eagles in the third set.

Along with Weis, who converted 25-26 serves, Cameron went 20-21 from the service line, Plum finished 12-13 and Tallman went 14-15 as the Wolves broke the 90th percentile for serving which is what Bellamy and the Wolves aim for every time they hit the court.

In the fourth and final set, Connell jumped out to an early lead, but Bryan's kill gave the Timberwolves a 4-3 advantage which they held the rest of the set.

Connell kept the set within reach until a 5-0 Wolves run, capped with an Abby Mains kill that made it 17-10, forcing the Eagles to call time out. Aside from the Goldendale cheerleaders and crowd, you could hear a pin drop near the once rowdy Connell student cheering section.

The Wolves finished the set on an 8-5 run to hold off the Eagles and advance to the district semifinals.

Bryan led the Wolves with a game-high 26 kills, Plum set up a game-best 43 assists and Talia Johnson paced the Wolves with 18 digs.

"Tough win on the road, always (tough) at Connell no matter what you're coming here to do," Bellamy said. "So we're going to enjoy this one for a couple days and work hard and prepare for (Naches)."

The Wolves meet Naches Saturday at noon at Kiona Benton High School in the semis. The Rangers beat the Timberwolves in both meetings this season and were the No. 1 seeded team from the SCAC West.

All four West teams knocked off their counterparts from the East side. The Rangers swept the Columbia Burbank Coyotes (25-10, 25-13, 25-8), Zillah swept the River View Panthers (25-21, 25-13, 25-21) and Granger, the West's No. 4 seed, topped Ki-Be, the East's No. 1 seed, in three sets (25-20, 25-16, 25-11).

The district tourney concludes Saturday, with the top four teams earning a bid to the WIAA State Championship, which runs Nov. 11 and 12 at the Yakima Valley SunDome.

Jaryd Cline

Sophomore Tori Tallman, left, and freshman Kristin Bighorn attempt to block a Connell spike during Tuesday's district opening match in Connell.

Goldendale stats:

Maddie Cameron: 20-21 serving, 22 perfect passes, 7 digs

Ocean Bryan: 26 kills, 16 digs, 2 aces

Sierra Plum: 12-13 serving, 43 assists, 9 digs, 1 block

Abby Mains: 13 kills, 1 block, 3 digs

Alison Gilliam: 5 kills, 3 digs, 3 set blocks

Tori Tallman: 3 kills, 3 set blocks, 14-15 serving

Talia Johnson: 18 digs, 11 perfect passes, 7-8 serving

Alyssa Weiss: 25-26 serving, 8 perfect passes, 7 digs

Kristen Bighorn: 3 set blocks, 1 kill, 3 assists


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