Sports

Efficient play pushes volleyball onward | South Whidbey bests Bellevue Christian 25-20, 25-14, 25-16

Falcon senior Mackenzie Hezel, left, and junior Anne Madsen, rise to block a pass by Granite Falls on Oct. 29. Hezel led the Falcons in a loser-out playoff match Thursday, which South Whidbey won 3-0 against Bellevue Christian.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Falcon senior Mackenzie Hezel, left, and junior Anne Madsen, rise to block a pass by Granite Falls on Oct. 29. Hezel led the Falcons in a loser-out playoff match Thursday, which South Whidbey won 3-0 against Bellevue Christian.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

Backs to the cliff, with the end of the season down below, South Whidbey’s volleyball Falcons soared to sweep Bellevue Christian 3-0 on Thursday night.

The Falcons moved on to play in a winner-to-state match against the Nooksack Valley Pioneers on Saturday morning. Final rounds of the 1A tri-district tournament are played at King’s High School, instead of at the higher seeds’ home court.

“We played so good, it was amazing,” said Falcon head coach Mandy Jones.

Jones credited her team’s defense, which compiled 39 digs among its top three defenders alone, for the victory in Bellevue. South Whidbey’s hitters protected the net, tallying a handful of blocks led by senior Mackenzie Hezel’s three - she also scored 11 kills and 15 digs - and junior Abby Hodson’s two stuffs to accompany her eight kills and two aces.

“Defense was huge,” Jones said. “Our blocking was better than I’ve seen it all season.”

South Whidbey forced Bellevue Christian into several errors in the first set, but made plenty of its own to keep the 25-20 score closer than it should have been, Jones said.

That was quickly corrected in the second set as the Falcons left the mistakes to the Vikings en route to a 25-14 win.

In the third set, the Vikings stormed out to an 8-2 lead before South Whidbey seized the lead and rolled to a 25-16 win, sealing the contest in the Falcons’ favor.

Winning the match knocked Bellevue Christian (12-2 Nisqually Conference, 13-4 overall) out of the tournament and ended the Vikings’ season.

Saturday’s match will be the second time in two weeks South Whidbey and Nooksack Valley faced off. In the previous bout, Nooksack Valley won 3-1, though each game was decided by less than five points.

Jones said her squad felt confident with the rematch and was playing well at every part of the game: serving, passing, hitting and defending. One of the missing pieces at times, she said, was a high energy level from the girls — not anymore.

“I feel we’re unstoppable when all of those components are together,” she said.

 

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