MONTESANO — With much of its power having literally gone south, Montesano is reinventing itself in volleyball.
The Bulldogs did so successfully Wednesday, relying on hitting accuracy and defense to down Aberdeen, 25-23, 25-16, 22-25, 25-11, in a non-league opener for both teams at Bo Griffith Memorial Gym.
This was Monte’s first contest since the graduation of hard-hitting Evergreen 1A League MVP Tera Novy, now enrolled at USC to participate in track.
While not as dominant at the net as in the recent past, the Bulldogs displayed solid serving (missing only three serves for the contest) and defense throughout. Sacrificing power for placement, they were able to increasingly find holes in the Bobcat defense as the match progressed.
Senior outside hitter Kendra Warnock led the Bulldogs with 14 kills, while sophomore Megan Choate pounded 11 kills and seven aces. Choate also brought up 12 digs.
Bulldog setter Courtney Swan finished with 28 assists and also had a fine serving night.
“Our focus this year has been on defense,” Monte coach Debbie Gibson, “and keeping the ball in play as our hitters start to get more comfortable.”
Still a young team, the Bobcats had their moments in every game but the fourth. They lacked the consistency to duplicate a decisive victory over Monte in Tuesday’s Hoquiam Jamboree.
“We’re getting there, moving in the right direction,” Aberdeen coach Wilma Weber noted. “Our passing is hot and cold.”
Aberdeen rallied from an 18-14 deficit in the third game to keep the match alive. Alahna Weber, the daughter of the coach, delivered a couple of sharply angled tips and Brittany Flohr served an ace during a 7-1 run that put the Bobcats ahead to stay at 21-19.
The Bulldogs, however, quickly regained command by reeling off the opening six points of the fourth game. After scoring the first two points on Bobcat errors, Monte sandwiched two Warnock kills around an Ambi Howell spike later in that streak.
With the Bobcats continuing to experience passing and defensive difficulties, Monte was never threatened for the rest of the game.
In hindsight, the pivotal game was the first. Aberdeen tallied the first five points of the see-saw stanza, only to see the Bulldogs fire back with eight straight.
The Bobcats regained the advantage at 23-21 when the Dogs failed to return a Weber serve. After a hitting error gave Montesano a side-out, Choate ended a long rally with a kill and libero Madi Studer hit from the back row to give the Bulldogs a 24-23 edge. They closed out the game when Choate and Hannah Jensen went up together for a block.
Flohr, Alahna Weber and Erika Nelson were cited by Coach Weber for fine performances. The Bobcats were without senior middle blocker Heather Dublanko due to a conflicting commitment.
Montesano won the JV match, 25-18, 25-23, with Valentina Loyola commended for all-around play.
The Bobcats head across Myrtle Street tonight to face rival Hoquiam. The Bulldogs have a slightly longer road trip, to Yakima for the Sundome Invitational on Friday.