In the end, if not necessarily the beginning, Montesano fulfilled its game plan perfectly.
Myranda Floch and Jordan Spradlin delivered season highs in kills as the Bulldogs captured the Evergreen League 1A volleyball title with a 21-25, 25-21, 25-19, 25-21 win over Hoquiam on Thursday at Hoquiam Square Garden.
By taking a showdown between league co-leaders, the Bulldogs (11-1, 13-1) avenged their only loss and earned the right to return to Hoquiam for the opening night of the District IV Class 1A tournament. They’ll face the Trico League’s fourth-seeded team in a first-round contest scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Garden.
The Grizzlies (10-2, 12-2) must travel to Castle Rock to open against the Trico League’s third seed, also at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. That match will be played in Castle Rock’s middle school gym.
The Bulldogs stayed on the attack for the majority of an intensely played contest. The Grizzlies dug up many of their hits, but Monte was able to find holes more frequently than in the first meeting of the Harbor rivals, won by Hoquiam in five sets.
Junior outside hitter Floch put down 21 kills, while the 6-foot Spradlin — a rapidly-improving freshman — had 15 kills and three solo blocks. Setters Megan Choate and Ambi Howell finished with 22 and 13 assists, respectively.
“That’s exactly what they were supposed to do, get it to the hitters,” Monte coach Debbie Gibson said in examining the statistics.
“I’m so proud of the kids, because they stuck to the game plan,” she added. “Because of that, we came out the victor.”
Hoquiam setter Megan Gibson, the daughter of the Monte coach, dished out 32 assists. Seniors Mikaila Johnson and Brandi Creviston contributed 13 kills and 16 digs, respectively, for the Grizzlies.
“I’ve got to give all the credit to Montesano,” HHS coach Heather Bozich said after a long locker-room session with her team. “When the chips were down, they made the big plays. I’m proud of my girls. They didn’t quit and we’re going to continue to have good battles with Monte.”
Montesano’s game plan assuredly did not include missing eight serves — a high total for any top-caliber team but a statistic viewed with particular distaste by Coach Gibson.
Four of those came in a opening set in which the Bulldogs made numerous other mistakes, twice committing net violations on points they otherwise would have won. Emma Estes’ kill gave the Grizzlies the set.
The Bulldogs shored up both their hitting and defense, however, in taking the next two sets.
With Creviston hitting a pair of aces on a five-point service run and Johnson and Bailee Bradley converting sets from Megan Gibson, the Grizzlies owned a 20-15 lead in the fourth set.
After a Grizzly error, Montesano’s Madi Studer — whose left-handed serve is notoriously hard to handle — rallied the Bulldogs by reeling off the next seven points. Following Studer’s second ace of that spurt, Floch hammered a kill to lift the Bulldogs to a 23-20 advantage.
Johnson momentarily halted the momentum by powering a spike through an attempted block. But a bad HHS pass gave the Bulldogs match point, which Floch converted off a set from Howell.
Monte freshman Shayla Floch used her jump serve to blast three aces and put 17 of her 18 serves in play. She also brought up six digs. Her sister Myranda had nine digs, one more than reserve Cortney Miller.
Estes and Bradley were credited with 11 and eight kills, respectively, for Hoquiam.
Bozich also cited the play of sophomore Hannah Hliboki, who returned from an early injury to contribute 12 digs.
Johnson, Creviston and Haley Bell were honored in Hoquiam’s pre-match Senior Night ceremonies.
Montesano came from behind in the third set for a 25-18, 21-25, 15-13 junior varsity victory. Josie Toyra was commended for all-around play.