Yelm volleyball faced the Gig Harbor Tide last week and almost defeated the team who had beat them 3-1 the last time the two teams faced.
Gig Harbor started off with an early lead, but Yelm battled and had to earn every point. Kailin Lasher had a solid hit for Yelm and brought the score to 6-3, Gig Harbor. While Lasher may have hit hard, the Tide hit back just a bit harder and soon Yelm found themselves down 9-5. Both teams made some diving saves and after a long rally, Yelm got back possession, bringing the score to 11-8. The Tornados tied up the game before Gig Harbor put an end to the run.
The two teams continued to go back and forth. Up by one Maya Davis took a dive, miraculously saving the ball, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough and they found themselves tied once again with 15 points a piece. They tied for the final time of the match when Yelm went on a short run, putting themselves up 19-17. Gig Harbor called a timeout, looking for a sideout, determined to not give Yelm the win. While the timeout may have worked to get a Tide sideout, Yelm was not about to lay down and quickly took possession once more.
Lasher served up the ball, which eventually lead to a freeball over the net and a Yelm point, causing Gig Harbor to call another timeout with the score 23-19, Yelm. This time it did not work and Lasher served up an ace, bringing the Tornados to game point. Yelm went on to win the first set 25-19.
Set two was just as fierce a battle, with both teams going back and forth. Eventually Gig Harbor took the second set, 25-23.
The Tide got off to an early 4-0 lead during the third set, but a kill from Alexis Keesler got Yelm their first point. Davis brought Yelm their second point, but then a serve into the net gave Gig Harbor back the serve. However, Yelm quickly regained possession and brought the score to 5-4, Tide. An in-the-net call on Gig Harbor tied up the game at five points a piece and a kill by Davis gave Yelm their first lead of the set. Unfortunately, a hard hit by Gig Harbor’s back row brought tied up the game once more.
It wasn’t long before Yelm took back the ball and Lasher had another hard hit that put Yelm in the lead. Kara Fourre then served up an ace, putting Yelm up 9-7. Her next serve was in the et, allowing Gig Harbor to go on a brief run, allowing them to gain a two point lead. A sneaky tip Jaelynn Carrier kept Yelm alive, getting caught up in the Tide’s block.
The game continued to go back and forth, but Gig Harbor had various errors that continued to give Yelm the ball, keeping them in the set and allowing Yelm to take a 17-13 lead. The Tide looked for a sideout with a timeout, but it was to no avail as a hit from Davis makes it through their block and Haley Greene served up an ace. Eventually Gig Harbor got their chance once more, but a save by Alyssa Steward had a diving save and the wall that was Davis and Greene made a near perfect block to put Yelm up 21-16.
Down by five, Gig Harbor called a timeout, once more looking for a sideout. They did not immediately get it, but they did get a couple more points before Yelm took the third set, 25-22.
The fourth set was all about hard hits and good blocks, on both sides of the net. The game went back and forth, but eventually Gig Harbor works into a 10-5 lead and John Reopelle, Yelm head coach, calls timeout, looking to get the Tide out of their groove. Gig Harbor continued on their run after the timeout, getting their lead up 13-5.
Yelm briefly interrupted Gig Harbor’s run with a point thanks to a sly tip by Greene. Down 16-7 Yelm calls another timeout, needing a sideout to stay alive. It worked, but they still found themselves down 21-10 within a few minutes. Eventually Yelm went on a brief run, forcing Gig Harbor to call a timeout of their own. It, too, was successful, but they still had to work for their final points.
Strong serves by Lasher brought Yelm a few more points, as did a perfect block by Mya Phelps. Somehow, the Tornados found themselves down by only three. Gig Harbor ended Yelm’s hopes of avoiding a fifth set with a kill that hit the back line and the Tide took set four, 25-23.
The fifth and final set only goes to 15 points. Gig Harbor took advantage of the smaller set and came out to an early lead. Yelm, running low on energy, quickly found themselves down 10-7 despite hard hits by Lasher and a few diving save attempts by Carrier. After a hard fought battle a hard hit directly on Yelm’s back line seals the deal and puts the final nail in the coffin. Gig Harbor took home the fifth set 15-10, winning the match overall 3-2.
“I thought we played great for four sets,” Reopelle said. “They’re just not used to being in that situation.”
This season Yelm has been in several matches that involved four or five sets, and have come up just short in the end each time. Reopelle is hoping that going forward, looking to next season, his young team will figure out what it takes to win these extended matches.
“I’d like (the younger players) to learn how to win these four, five-setters,” Reopelle said.
Despite the frustrating loss, Reopelle could not help but be proud of his team and how far they have come from not only the very first game, but only a few weeks ago when they last faced Gig Harbor. He pointed out that his teams serves were much improved, as was their receiving game.
“Tonight I think we played right with them,” Reopelle said.
Last Tuesday was senior night, as well as their final match of the season against the undefeated Capital Cougars. Prior to the match Yelm’s six graduating varsity players were honored. These players include Steward, Davis, Keesler, Bryanna Roseen, Brittney Helping and Anouck Hoekstra.
The seniors have made great strides since Reopelle took over the program three years ago. He specifically pointed out Davis and the improvement she has made over the season. She originally started out as an outside hitter, but Reopelle moved her to the middle. She was not too thrilled about the decision, but came to realize that this position brought her more hitting opportunities and more kills.
The seniors have worked hard for all of the teams improvement both this season and when they started as freshmen.
“Everything they’ve done, they’ve done in this gym with us,” Reopelle said.