COLLEGE PLACE — Walla Walla Valley Academy dug itself out of a 2-1 hole, rallied to force a full five-set match, and began its volleyball season with a Knights victory over Weston-McEwen in non-league action here on Monday.
Weston-McEwen came in with already more than a week of action, including 10 matches, under its belt, and the TigerScots were poised to make short work WWVA in a best-of-five after taking the first set and the third.
But the Knights regrouped to win back-to-back sets, including a tiebreaking fifth, and wound up taking the overall match, 15-25, 25-19, 23-25, 26-24 and 15-9.
“The Walla Walla Valley Academy season opener at home tonight against Weston-McEwen didn’t start off the way we would have liked at all,” WWVA coach Robin Browning said. “But my eight warrior Knights just had to get their armor on, and engage together to get things leveled out.”
Sahara Browning scored 26 kills for WWVA while making 12 assists and a block along with six aces on 17-of-19 serving.
Macyn Scherger gave the Knights another five aces on 25-of-28 serving as she tallied four kills and dished 22 assists.
Kaylene Wells added two kills and four aces on 18-of-21 serving, Rylee King had five kills and two aces on 16-of-19 serving, Jessica Mitchell had five kills and four aces on 16-of-19 serving.
WWVA also had a kill by Celeste Santellano.
The Knights wound up needing everything.
“Weston-McEwen came at us, and used every advantage that we let them have,” coach Browning said. “That started with a rotational error to make us lose our first four points, and our first serving position.
“The girls just couldn’t recover from the momentum loss in the first five points,” Browning said. “We took a pretty good beating in the first set with a score of 15-25 to prove it.
“After some adjustments, and better communication all the way around, my Lady Knights came out fighting in the second set,” coach Browning said. “With Rylee King converting 3-of-4 serves to aces, Kaylene Wells throwing up another ace, Sahara Browning converting 6-of-11 hits to kills, and Macyn Scherger putting in six assists, we were on a much better track and fought for a close win of 25-19.
“The third set was a battle back and forth, with Weston-McEwen coming out on top with a two-point separation,” coach Browning said. “We needed to make some defensive adjustments if we were going to have a better chance to come out on top.
“The Knights stepped up once again, and got the job done,” coach Browning said. “I kept asking them to do more, make a better read, pinch in, line up the hitter ... and they kept marching together to take the fourth set in another tight split of 26-24, squeezing Weston-McEwen out by a hair.
“In the fifth, we were looking tired, and making some mental errors,” coach Browning said. “We had talked about every serve, every pass, every hit being intentional and intelligent.
“These tenacious eight took those words to heart,” coach Browning said. “With four aces and seven kills they took the match with a 15-9 final score.
“I am exceptionally proud of the way they were able to battle back after such a rocky start,” coach Browning said. “It is an exceptional way to start our season off, and I am looking forward to seeing what else this young group of players can accomplish when they set their minds to it, and work together.”
WWVA will next play on Monday at College Place High School, starting at 6:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, Weston-McEwen will have more than a week to regroup for its next match on Sept. 19 at home against Pilot Rock in a Blue Mountain Conference clash starting at 6:30 p.m.
Ellie Scheibner finished the WWVA match with 24 assists and seven digs for the TigerScots, while teammate Emma Olson made 15 digs.
Trinity Hearn gave Weston-McEwen five aces, 10 kills and three blocks, Jesse Manning added 11 kills and 19 digs, Charli King made 12 assists, Bailey Munck had a kill and four blocks, Cloe Davis had 12 kills and two blocks, Kendra Zink scored 10 kills, and Carrie Hazen tallied three aces on 29-of-29 serving while also hustling after nine digs.
“At times, we played well,” TigerScots coach Shawn White said. “And at times, we struggled a little bit with some parts of our decision making. That got us at critical times.
“But for the most part we played well,” White said. “It’s just that there were some areas where we’ve got to get more consistent.”