MONTESANO — Going from victim to victor in the course of a couple of hours, Montesano emerged as the last Evergreen 1A League team standing in the District IV Class 1A Volleyball Tournament..
The Bulldogs split a pair of decisive contests on the opening night of district on Wednesday at Montesano.
After dropping a 25-16, 25-19, 25-20 decision to Woodland in their opening match at Bo Griffith Memorial Gym, they trounced Forks, 25-13, 25-18, 25-17, in a loser-out contest at the junior high gym.
The Evergreen 1A League co-champion Bulldogs (13-3) must now get past Kalama, one of a quartet of powerful Trico League clubs, in a winner-to-state, loser-out match scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at Castle Rock.
The Chinooks pushed unbeaten Castle Rock to five sets in a semifinal at Castle Rock on Wednesday before falling, 25-18, 23-25, 25-18, 19-25, 15-10.
Castle Rock and King’s Way Christian will play for the district title at 3 p.m. Saturday, also at Castle Rock.
The Bulldogs switched roles in a pair of ultra-quick matches. Halloween trick-or-treaters were still roaming the streets of Montesano long after the Dogs had concluded their evening’s work.
Neither outcome was particularly surprising. While the fourth-seeded club in the Trico League, Woodland is one of four state-ranked teams in that circuit and showed it in keeping the Bulldogs on their heels for the majority of the match.
Perhaps inspired by a league loss at home to Forks, the Bulldogs attacked constantly in dominating the Spartans last night.
Despite the outcomes, Monte coach Debbie Gibson didn’t necessarily disagree with the notion that her club might have played better against Woodland.
“I felt like we played well. Woodland’s a better team,” she said. “Unfortunately, Forks had a lot of unforced errors and we capitalized on them.”
Senior Kendra Warnock put down 15 kills and senior setter Courtney Swan had 21 assists in the Bulldog victory.
“Kendra really carried our offense,” Gibson noted.
The Bulldogs weren’t flawless in this match. They missed four consecutive serves in the second set — a development that would be anathema to all coaches but particularly to Gibson.
But with the Bulldogs controlling the net, none of the sets were in doubt.
Swan served seven consecutive points in the opening set to give Monte a commanding 12-4 advantage. Warnock delivered three kills in a 6-0 run that gave the Dogs a 15-5 bulge in the second stanza.
Forks owned a couple of one-point leads in the third set before Megan Choate served four straight points to put the Bulldogs on top to stay at 14-10.
Warnock appropriately provided the clinching point by putting away a pass from Ambi Howell.
Choate brought up 16 digs and Myranda Floch eight digs in this contest.
It only took the first dozen points to determine that Monte was in trouble against Woodland.
The Beavers not only had the advantage in size and power, but also covered the court well and made few passing mistakes. Senior Taylor Rosenbalm and sophomore Kate Swett undoubtedly reached double figures in kills as the visitors pounded away at Monte’s defense.
“They’re just offensively sound in every position,” Gibson noted. “I felt like we couldn’t sustain the defense enough to go on offense. They were so powerful. We got beat by a better team.”
Monte’s best moments came early in the second set.
Choate served the Bulldogs to a 6-1 lead and Warnock’s cross-court kill, followed by a Woodland hitting error, made it 10-4 a bit later.
Following a side-out, Rosenbalm served eight successive points to vault the Beavers to a 16-11 advantage. A missed spike gave the Bulldogs a side-out, but Swett accounted for two kills among the next five points for a 21-12 bulge.
Facing eight match points at 24-16 in the third set, Monte saved four of them — one on a Warnock kill and another on Floch’s stuff block. Swett responded with a kill to end the drama.
Floch led Bulldog hitters in this contest with eight kills — two more than Warnock and Hannah Jensen. Montesano nearly had three players reach double digits in digs, as Choate had 13, Warnock 10 and Howell nine. Swan dished out 19 assists.