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By Jaryd Cline
Sports editor 

Leopards hand Goldendale spikers first loss, big match in Naches on Thursday


October 11, 2017

Jaryd Cline

The Timberwolves celebrate their second-set win during Monday's four-set loss to the Zillah Leopards.

The Goldendale spikers were rolling through the first half of the South Central Athletic Conference slate and looked to keep their undefeated streak intact against the Zillah Leopards on Monday night.

The Timberwolves had won their first five league contests including a pair of thrilling five-set wins at home, and it looked like Monday's game might go the full five sets as well. However, the Leopards were able to hold off Goldendale's comeback bid, winning in four sets (18-25, 25-23, 23-25, and 22-25) to hand the Timberwolves their first SCAC West loss this season.

"We just weren't at our best and sometimes that happens," Goldendale head coach Jodi Bellamy said.

The Timberwolves knocked off the Leopards in four sets during the team's first meeting on Sept. 14, but there were a few factors this time around that led to the Zillah win.

The main factor for the Timberwolves was their hitting struggles. They had a tough night putting home some of the kills they usually convert, and hit at just a .124 clip on Monday.

"We need to kill the ball with a better percentage," Bellamy said. "We're not going to win matches with that percentage against good teams."

The Leopards also played better than when the two teams met in the league opener a month ago, and served the ball much better, Bellamy said. They also got more production from senior Samantha Bowman, who, at 6-foot-2, was a force at the net Monday. She played better than the first meeting, and had some big kills and tough blocks that disrupted Goldendale's attack at times. However, the Wolves were still able to get some kills past her and also blocked some of her kill attempts.

Junior Tori Tallman put Goldendale on the scoreboard first in the opening set with a kill, but they fell behind 3-10 moments later. Goldendale regained the lead at 16-14, but the Leopards finished the set on a 9-2 run to go up 1-0.

Goldendale took a back-and-forth second set which saw the Wolves go up 24-20, only to have the Leopards rally for three-straight points and pull within one at 24-23. But Tallman was able to put the set away with a kill that gave the team the 25th point.

Senior Abby Mains had some key kills late in the third set, but the Leopards snuck past 23-25, and scored the final four points in the fourth set after Goldendale led 22-21.

Mains had 14 kills, Tallman had 13, and senior Allison Gilliam had 10 while the three combined for nine blocks against the Leopards. Senior Sierra Plum handed out 32 assists and five Wolves finished with double-digit digs on Monday.

It was a tough loss for the Wolves to drop them to 5-1 in SCAC West play, but Bellamy is hoping the Wolves can build off that loss with another big game coming up on Thursday.

"We're just going to use (the loss) to motivate us at practice," Bellamy said.

The team is on the road Thursday for a big-time match with the Naches Rangers. Both teams have one league loss, so Thursday's game very well could determine the league champion.

"We have a lot of fight," Bellamy said, "and we're going to come out strong Thursday."

First serve for Thursday's game is around 7 p.m. Goldendale beat the Rangers in five sets on Sept. 19 in Goldendale.


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