Sports & Outdoors

Volleyball firing on all cylinders, hard work paying off with conference wins

The Lady Loggers were on the road yet again this weekend playing George Fox on Friday and Lewis and Clark on Saturday. The Loggers were able to defeat both teams, but the ends were reached with different means.

On Friday night, the Loggers beat the George Fox Bruins 3-1, with set scores of 12-25, 25-20, 25-22, and 25-15. The beginning of the weekend’s journey was rough. Team morals were low when the Bruins strung together points at the start of the match. The Loggers came back stronger in the second match, and ended the night with Natalie Monro (Eagle, Idaho) contributing 14 kills, Brynn Blickenstaff (Eagle, Idaho) 12, and Jordan Bird (Richland, Wash.) 10 additional kills for the Loggers.

One of the biggest turning points in the match was in the fourth set. As a characteristically large blocking team, the Loggers were used to dominating at the net. However, it took until the fourth game for the middle blockers to adjust to the Bruins’ offense. But once they did, the Bruin started hitting timidly. In all, the Loggers had 10 team blocks while the Bruins had only 4. Molly Gibson (Lake Forest Park, Wash.) and Bird each added 2.5 blocks.

Even though the Loggers won the game, they were unsatisfied with their performance in the incipient stage of their game. “The hardest part about away games is switching to game-mode after sitting on the bus for hours. We have to build up energy from scratch.” Natalie Monro (Eagle, Idaho). They formed a plan to start stronger in the following match the next night against Lewis and Clark College.

With that in mind, the Loggers started out Saturday night against the Lewis and Clark Pioneers with great energy. Supportive cheers and brouhaha was heard outside of the gym, as the lady Loggers dominated the court with their presence.

This energy carried through to the beginning of the match. As perfectly summarized by freshman Marissa Florant (Palo Alto, Calif.), “Saturday was a complete opposite [from Friday] in terms of starting out strong. We lost concentration in the middle of the match, but managed to escape in the fifth set.” Set scores reflected this dip in concentration, with results of 25-18, 25-16, 23-25, 19-25, 15-10.

Coach Mark Massey tried out a new lineup in the middle of the third gamed, giving the newer players a chance to experience the high pressure situations of college athletics. Despite the set loss, Massey reported not regretting his decision, as it gave the newer players an opportunity to develop their on-court skills. Florant had an impressive 13 digs, and impressed with her ability to make a solid positive contribution on the court during her limited time in.

As an assistant coach, Nathan Aune sees the potential of the team as well. For him, “the fun lies in the challenge of displaying the team’s brilliance on a consistent basis.” The team’s frustration was apparent in the fourth set, when the regular starters were in again and were unable to stop the Bruins. 12 attacking errors and continued missed serves detracted from any momentum the Loggers accumulated. Despite the different means, the Loggers were in the end able to win both matches. Their record now is 10-4, and 5-1 in the NWC.

As freshman Tina Chun (Pearl City, Hawaii) explains, the volleyball team is “family. We take care of each other in all aspects, on and off the court.” As they continue in their pursuit of the National title, the Lady Loggers are clearly devoted to not only the game, but to each other. That is a rare and distinguishing skill.