By Jaryd Cline
Sports editor 

No déjà vu as Wolves win in five sets in district opener at Kiona Benton


November 1, 2017

Jaryd Cline

The Timberwolves celebrate on the court moments after topping the Kiona Benton Bears during the opening round of the district tournament on Tuesday. The No. 4 seed Goldendale won in five sets against the top-seeded team from the east side.

Fans lucky enough to be in attendance during the opening round of the South Central Athletic Conference district tournament on Halloween night in Kiona Benton were rewarded with an instant classic, five-set thriller between the top-seeded Bears and the visiting Goldendale Timberwolves.

For the second straight year in the district tournament against the Bears in their gym, the Timberwolves jumped out to a 2-0 set lead only to see the Bears bounce back and force a fifth and deciding set.

However, this time the Timberwolves wouldn't be denied. Bolstered by the return of senior setter Sierra Plum, who missed four games with a sprained ankle, Goldendale held off the Bears (25-22, 27-25, 23-25, 16-25, and 15-13) and advanced to the district semifinals, where they'll meet La Salle on Saturday at Granger High School.

The Timberwolves never trailed in the decisive set, and went into a frenzy when Plum's two-handed tip hit the floor before the Bears could get a hand on it to give the visiting team the 15-13 win.

"I'm proud of the kids for overcoming a challenging situation," Bellamy said. "Having lost to them in the last two years was hard. To come down here and beat them in their gym was super awesome."

After going up two sets to none, the Wolves watched as their lead evaporated while the momentum seemingly went to the Bears after a tough nine-point loss (16-25) in the fourth set. However, Goldendale shook off the setback, and came out strong in the fifth.

"One thing we're really working on is moving past our mistakes," Bellamy said. "I felt like we really did a good job of that."

Goldendale jumped out to a 3-1 lead early in the fifth set, and after the Bears tied it twice at four and eight, the Wolves took their largest lead of the set at 12-8, needing just three more points for the win.

Ki-Be scored two straight, and after a Goldendale time out, cut the deficit to 12-11. After two kills from senior Abby Mains made it 14-12, a service error brought the Bears within one at 14-13.

After a short rally on the ensuing point, Plum got her hands on the ball and placed it just out of reach of the Bears as it hit the floor, putting the road team in a frenzy and quieting the Ki-Be side of the bleachers.

Plum was all over the court Tuesday night, setting up nice passes for the outside hitters while also getting in good position to counter the Bears' sneaky tip game.

"It was wonderful to have her back and her leadership" Bellamy said of her senior setter. "We just have to have her there and she made some big plays."

No team led by more than three points in a first set that featured a handful of ties and lead changes. Goldendale fell behind at 12-15, but a kill from freshman Taylor Rising shortly after gave the Wolves the lead for good at 18-17. They finished the set on a 9-5 run after trailing 16-17.

The second set saw the home team open up leads of four points at 8-12 after a serving ace, and five points after a tip that made it 11-16.

But the Wolves didn't bend, taking the lead shortly after at 19-18 after a kill from Mains, with a loud applause from the Goldendale fans and bench ensuing. The Bears retook the lead (21-22), and led 23-24 as the Ki-Be bench and coaches all held up one finger, needing just one more point to even the set. But that didn't happen.

A kill from sophomore Alyssa Weis tied it at 24, and after a Ki-Be point and service error evened the score at 25, the Bears called time right after Mains put the Wolves up 26-25 with a kill.

The Bears then tried to sneak in a tip, but Plum was right there waiting for it, and the Bears weren't able to get the ball back over the net, putting the Wolves up two sets to none.

The Goldendale bench was a raucous throughout the first two sets, jumping up and hollering loudly after every Goldendale point, their voices echoing throughout the Ki-Be gym.

"Oh we love that," Bellamy said of the energy. "And it is hard when you're not playing as well to keep that energy up but that's what we're working on."

Going up 2-0 against the Bears on their home court was a familiar feeling for Goldendale. They had a 2-0 set lead in last year's third/fourth place district game, but the Bears rallied to win the final three sets and eliminate Goldendale from the postseason.

Although that game wasn't mentioned on Tuesday after the Bears rallied to win the third and fourth sets, players from last year's team used that memory to fuel their fifth-set surge.

"We didn't talk about it," Bellamy said. "But they did say in the locker room that they wanted it really, really bad because of what happened last year."

"So maybe it was (in the players' minds) but it was more motivational rather than bothering them," she added.

With Goldendale's win, the west side of the conference swept the opening round of districts, with La Salle knocking off Burbank, Granger topping Connell, and Naches sweeping River View.

Last year, the Timberwolves won in four sets over Connell on the road in the district opener, and again all west side teams won their district openers.

The time for Saturday's game against La Salle isn't yet known, the winner would advance to the championship game, awaiting the winner of the Naches-Granger match.

Complete Goldendale stats: Alyssa Weis 17-17 serving, 14 pp, 21 digs, 9 kills, 3 assists; Talia Johnson 17 pp, 22 digs, 2 kills; Abby Mains 25 kills, 2 blocks, 5 digs; Sierra Plum 4 aces, 47 assists, 10 digs; Allison Gilliam 12-12 serving, 12 pp, 15 digs, 9 kills; Tori Tallman 25-27 serving, 3 aces, 5 digs, 7 kills, 2 blocks; Taylor Rising 16-16 serving, 10 digs, 6 kills, 3 assists; Delaney Peters 1 kill.

Jaryd Cline

Senior Abby Mains goes up for a block against Kiona Benton's Mihaela Edwards during Tuesday's five-set thriller.


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