Grizzlies rally to beat Bobcats in volleyball

Slow starts to each set proved to be no problem for Hoquiam’s girls.

Turning on the power late in the first two sets, the Grizzlies swept Aberdeen, 25-21, 26-24, 25-19, in a non-league volleyball match Thursday night at Sam Benn Gym.

Had sets been played to 12 points instead of the standard 25, the Grizzlies (2-0) might have been in trouble last night.

They trailed 13-8 in the opening stanza and 12-5 in the second. Even in the more comfortable third set, Hoquiam overcame a 5-1 deficit.

“I thought we were nervous,” HHS coach Heather Bozich said. “But they persevered. I’m really proud of the girls, how they came back.”

As well as the Bobcats (0-2) played defensively in Tuesday’s season-opening loss to Montesano, they may have surpassed that standard in the first two sets Thursday. With Lily Walsh, Maddy Farrer and libero McKenzie Martin, in particular, digging up numerous hits, Aberdeen was able to nullify Hoquiam’s superior power during the early stages of each set.

But the Grizzlies found their hitting rhythm during crunch time. Junior Bailee Bradley led a balanced Hoquiam attack with eight kills, while 6-foot senior Mikaila Johnson put down seven and Olivia Rose also had a good hitting night for the Grizzlies.

Sophomore setter Megan Gibson dished out 28 assists.

The serving of Brandi Creviston and Gibson helped produce a 9-2 run that put the Grizzlies on top to stay in the first set.

Aberdeen was as close as 22-21 after Kiana Dixon converted a set from Walsh, but the Bobcats were guilty of miscommunication on the next two points won by the Grizzlies. A net violation gave Hoquiam the set.

Gibson served seven straight points, a spree highlighted by two Johnson kills, to give Hoquiam a 17-14 edge in the second set.

The Grizzlies missed a serve on set point to tie it at 24, but Gibson twice set up the left-handed Johnson for set-ending kills.

The third-set victory, by comparison, was relatively routine. Johnson slammed consecutive aces and Hannah Hliboki also served an ace to erase the early deficit, while the Bobcats were guilty of several hitting errors. Hoquiam’s Emma Estes put down a kill on match point.

Creviston brought up 20 digs and even produced a couple of kills from the back row.

Bobcat coach Wilma Weber nearly duplicated her post-match comments from two nights earlier.

“They’re playing with a lot of heart,” Weber said. “Like I said before, we’ve got to find a way to put the ball down on the other side of the court … and we’ve got to do a little better at the service line.”

Martin, Walsh and freshmen Haley Farrer and Jillian Swor drew Weber’s praise.

Aberdeen rallied for a 21-25, 25-21, 15-12 junior varsity triumph. Montesano topped Aberdeen (Hoquiam does not have a C squad) in the C squad contest.

Both teams begin play in their respective leagues Tuesday. The Grizzlies host Forks, while the Bobcats entertain River Ridge.