In sweltering conditions more suited to beach volleyball than the indoor variety, Hoquiam got hot at the right time.
Seizing the momentum by coming from far back in the opening game, the Grizzlies never relinquished it in topping Aberdeen, 26-24, 25-11, 25-21, in a non-league match Thursday night at Hoquiam Square Garden.
Six-foot junior Mikaila Johnson led Hoquiam hitters with eight kills, with Jessica Madison adding six kills and three aces and freshman setter Megan Gibson contributing four aces and 21 assists.
The Grizzlies (2-0) also played excellent back-row defense. Junior libero Brandi Creviston brought up 15 digs.
“It helps that all my back-row players are returning,” HHS coach Christine Nelson noted. “Our defense was outstanding.”
Aberdeen coach Wilma Weber said her club demonstrated improved defense from the previous night’s loss to Montesano. The Bobcats, however, provided some unwilling assistance to Hoquiam’s opening-game rally.
Leading 20-13, the Cats (0-2) proceeded to miss four consecutive serves.
“That’s the rule. You can’t miss more than one in a row,” a wincing Weber said.
Aberdeen secured enough points on side-outs, however, to own two game points at 24-22.
Two Bobcat errors enabled the Grizzlies to tie it. Hoquiam’s Tiffani Dhooghe ended a long rally with a kill and another Aberdeen hitting miscue closed out the game.
The Bobcats seemingly didn’t recover from that missed opportunity until midway through the third game. By that time, the Grizzlies had picked up the quality of their own play, particularly on the attack.
“We started to talk and got a lot more energy and played our game rather than letting them dictate to us,” Nelson said.
Rallying from a 16-13 deficit, the Bobcats tied it at 20 on a missed Grizzly serve. Aberdeen’s block of a Johnson hit sailed wide and Dhooghe followed with a pair of jump-serve aces to give Hoquiam a 23-21 edge.
Following a kill by Aberdeen’s Brittany Flohr, Johnson twice put away sets from Gibson to end the match.
Senior Alahna Weber paced the Bobcats with seven kills, eight assists and four aces. Reserves Ally Jennings and Kelsey Scott were commended by Coach Weber.
Temperatures in the Garden undoubtedly topped 70 degrees, with several spectators using programs as fans.
Staving off a match point in the second game, Hoquiam rode a long serving streak from Bailee Bradley in the third stanza to take the JV match, 23-25, 26-24, 15-6. The Grizzlies also won the C squad contest, 25-17, 25-15.
Both teams open play in their respective leagues on Tuesday. Hoquiam makes the long trek to Forks, while Aberdeen visits River Ridge.