Walla Walla Community College bounced back from a loss in the third set to finish off Yakima Valley in four and capture their 12th straight victory in Northwest Athletic Conference East Division volleyball action here Wednesday.
The Warriors (24-6 overall, 12-0 in the division) started en route to a sweep as they took the first two sets, 25-17 and 25-19, but Yakima handed them a 25-18 setback to prolong the match.
Walla Walla, nevertheless, answered with a dominating performance in the fourth set, a 25-13 win that finally brought the victory to an end.
“It’s always good to get a win in region,” WWCC coach Chelsie Speer said. “The third set was a little frustrating — we had 10 unforced errors. We really pay attention to that, because we talk about how those are the reasons why you win or lose.
“But it was great to see them once again bounce back, and pull out the fourth set.”
WWCC sophomore Savannah Ruark, a Pomeroy High graduate, scored 13 kills and also made six blocks.
“We played really well,” Ruark said. “We just came out ready to play, and didn’t underestimate them. We kinda fell down the third game, but we came back and we got it in the fourth. We figured out what needed to be changed, and we got it figured out as a group.”
Warriors sophomore Dani Burke contributed 24 assists and 12 digs, classmate Tori Wegdahl hustled to make 21 digs, and fellow sophomore Alex Garrison added seven kills along with 14 assists.
WWCC freshman Lindsey Carpenter put in eight kills and 10 digs, classmate Morgan Ness tallied 12 kills and seven digs, and fellow freshman Hannah Pond chipped in eight digs.
“It wasn’t just one person,” Ruark said. “We all picked it up, and got it together.”
Walla Walla almost never trailed in the first two sets, as they used their height advantage near the net with Ruark, Ness and Cheyan James standing 6-feet tall.
Yakima crept close – managing a 17-17 tie in the second set — only to have the Warriors record blocks at pivotal moments.
“We’ve really been working on that quite a bit,” Speer said. “We know that when we play teams that hitters are going to be aggressive, people are going to be playing well, so we’ve got to defend at the net well, first, and then let our defense work around in the back row.”
“I just felt like we came out a little too relaxed after that halftime thing that we have in between set two and three,” Speer said. “I think we were too relaxed, and we lost control of the fundamentals.”
Yakima opened the fourth set with a 2-0 lead, but Walla Walla then took over. The Warriors reeled off six straight points and never looked back.
“Communication was what we needed to do,” Ruark said. “Getting excited for every point, even though it wasn’t always the best.”
WWCC’s unbeaten streak stretches back to Sept. 13, and also includes three two-set victories Oct. 14 at the Lower Columbia Crossover in Longview, Wash.
The Warriors next play Friday in Pendleton, at Blue Mountain. The Warriors won their first meeting on Sept. 28, but Speer expects only challenges as they make a second tour through the league.
“Every game is gonna be tough,” Speer said. “Friday, we’re at Blue Mountain. They’re in fourth right now. They’re playing a lot better. They want to make sure they get into the tournament. It’s a well-run program, so I know they’re going to be ready for us.
“We’ve got to make sure we play clean, disciplined volleyball when we go over there.”
Article by Hector del Castillo of the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin