In the most anticipated match in the first half of the Mid-Columbia Conference volleyball season, it all came down to composure.
Kamiakin had that down pat, while Southridge, victim of its own wrongdoings, struggled all match before the host Braves walked off the court Thursday with a 25-18, 14-25, 25-17, 25-15 victory before a standing-room only crowd.
“I think we were really focused on playing relaxed and focused,” said Kamiakin’s Nicole Lee, who put her seal of approval on the match with a thunderous kill down the middle on match point. “We played our game. It’s nice to be the one coming out of here with the win.”
Both teams were 5-0 in conference play entering the match, and Southridge had won 21 consecutive MCC matches.
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“It was a fun match,” Braves coach Mary Opitz said. “We played relaxed and had fun. Those two things go well together.”
For the Suns, nothing went right, except the second set. They had 37 unforced errors, which included five missed serves.
“I wished we would have played better,” Suns coach John Lengphounpraseut said. “We just couldn’t get any momentum. We were uptight to start the match, and we couldn’t let go. Kamiakin is a good team, but we didn’t play to our potential.”
The Braves jumped out to a 14-8 lead in the first set, only to see the Suns pull within three points five times before pulling away.
The Suns trailed most of the second set before pulling even at 12-all. Kamiakin reeled off a streak of unforced errors that allowed Southridge to take a 16-12 lead.
Kamaile Moody served the final five points of the set, with Leilani Moody securing the win with a cross-court kill.
Other than ties at 3-3 and 4-4, the Braves controlled the third set, leading by as many as eight points. Brianna Esvelt had a string of four points early in the match that helped Kamiakin extend its lead to 11-5. Two hitting errors on the part of the Suns ended the set to give the Braves a 2-1 lead.
Southridge hung on in the fourth set, leading 6-4 early on before the Braves got four service points from Esvelt and eight from Dani Burke to take a 23-13 lead.
The Suns managed a couple of points before Lee had the last word.
“Our hitting percentage was one of the worst of the season,” Lengphounpraseut said. “We hit .083 as a team. That isn’t going to help you win any game. Makenna (Behrens) was our best player on the court. She had 31 digs. I wish we had the offense to match up to her tonight.”
Set scores: Kamiakin 25-18, 14-25, 25-17, 25-15. Southridge—Alyssa Palmer 12K, 17 digs; Jordan Mix 14K, 12 digs; Leilani Moody 5K, 16 assist; 7 digs; Kamaile Moody 13 assist; 5 digs, 3K; Makenna Behrens 31 digs. Kamiakin—Nicole Lee 14K; Andrea Stapleton 10K; Lindsey Schauble 6K, 22 digs; Dani Burke 26 assist, 23-23 serving, 2 aces; Brianna Esvelt 12-12 serving; Rachel Leshikar 24 digs, 11-11 serving; Allison Stapleton 3B.