Chokers return to volleyball court victorious

The revival of the Grays Harbor College volleyball program couldn’t have gone much smoother.

Relying primarily on solid serving and defense, the Chokers celebrated their first volleyball match in some five years by sweeping Edmonds Community College, 25-13, 25-18, 25-15, in a non-league season opener Wednesday night at Sam Benn Gym.

The GHC volleyball program was reinstated after about a five-year absence last winter, leaving the Chokers with an all-freshman roster.

They performed like veterans Wednesday, particularly on the defensive end, in sauna-like conditions at Benn Gym.

Edmonds had the edge in raw power, but was far less consistent. With Hoquiam products Tiffani Dhooghe, Chelsy Stewart and Katelyn Gwinn and Aberdeen’s Alahna Weber and Alex Bergeson among those picking up Triton hits and Aberdeen’s Heather Dublanko contributing several stuff blocks, the Chokers simply waited for the visitors to make mistakes.

While Edmonds committed 11 serving errors, the Chokers were guilty of only two — excluding a couple of times they were called for stepping over the service line, volleyball’s equivalent of a foot fault in tennis.

“I thought we played with a ton of energy tonight,” Grays Harbor coach Christine Nelson said. “We blocked well. It helps when you have three 6-footers…and our back row played great. We got some hands on the ball and made some great saves.”

Grays Harbor also received a fine all-around performance from Cashmere High grad Kendra Weiler, the lone non-Harborite on the 10-player roster. Although accurate statistics were unavailable, Weiler probably led GHC in kills.

The Chokers trailed only in the early stages of the second set. Dublanko’s block capped an 8-3 run that put them in front to stay at 19-14.

Following a 10-minute intermission mandated by college rules, the Chokers maintained their momentum in the third set.

Weber served the opening five points of that game, including an ace. After Edmonds secured a side-out on a kill by Carly Sims (the daughter of former Hoquiam athlete Scott Sims), Weiler put down a kill and Gwinn smacked three aces for a 10-1 bulge.

Stewart converted a Weber set to make it 24-13. The Tritons salvaged two match points, but hit long on the third.

Nelson said she wasn’t overly surprised by her team’s showing.

“We played real well in our scrimmage against Everett, so I thought we’d be competitive,” the Choker coach said.

The Chokers venture to Portland to compete in the Multnomah Bible College Tournament on Friday and Saturday.