Montesano opens season with sweep of Aberdeen

For at least the second night of a week without practice, on-the-job training worked out nicely for Montesano’s volleyballers.

Leading virtually throughout, the Bulldogs turned back Aberdeen, 25-18, 25-16, 25-21, in a non-league season opener Tuesday night at steamy Sam Benn Gym.

The victory kick-started an unusual week for the Bulldogs, who aren’t scheduled for a formal practice until next Tuesday.

After participating in the Hoquiam Jamboree on Monday, they hosted South Bend Wednesday and leave today for Yakima, where they’ll compete in the Class 1A portion of the Sundome Invitational. They’ll begin Evergreen 1A League play next Monday at Rainier.

Montesano is also trying out a different offense this season, with two setters. Megan Choate and Ambi Howell, both hitters last season, are sharing the setting duties this season.

The Bulldogs missed seven serves, although they did partly compensate with a fistful of aces, and were erratic in their passing. They were, however, more consistent on the attack than the Bobcats.

Winning coach Debbie Gibson viewed the contest as a learning experience.

“If we serve the ball better, which I know we can do, and pass the ball to the right spots, we should be successful,” Gibson said. “It’s all about finding the right combination. It’s preseason.”

Aberdeen coach Wilma Weber, meanwhile, was pleased with her inexperienced team’s showing.

“We’ve got three starters with no varsity experience,” she noted. “I’m very happy. I thought we passed well and we played excellent defense. We just need to put the ball away.”

Montesano trailed exactly twice, at 2-1 in the first set and 1-0 in the second. The Bobcats put together significant runs in each set, but started the spurts from several points back.

With Choate and Madi Studer each serving back-to-back aces, the Bulldogs stormed to a 17-9 lead in the third set.

Capitalizing on Monte errors, Aberdeen rallied to cut the deficit to one (19-18) on a Tiana Blackburn ace. Blackburn’s next serve, however, sailed considerably long. Then Howell scored on a dump (faking a set and pushing the ball into the open court) and set up Myranda Floch for a kill that made it 22-18.

The match ended moments later when a Bobcat kill attempt was inches wide.

The first set followed a similar pattern. The Bobcats trailed only 20-18 on a Maddy Farrer kill, but the Bulldogs gained a side-out on a net violation. Choate served the final four points, twice assisting on Floch kills.

Floch led Bulldog hitters with seven kills and also brought up 10 digs. Choate and Howell each handed out five assists, with the former also contributing 12 digs. The left-handed Studer served four aces.

Weber credited her entire team for a good showing, but noted the contributions of her three first-time starters — Farrer, Jillian Swor and libero McKenzie Martin.

The Bobcats rallied for a 11-25, 25-22, 15-9 junior varsity victory. Montesano took the C squad match in three sets.

While the Bulldogs defeated South Bend Wednesday, the Bobcats entertain Hoquiam tonight.