LYNDEN - Lynden's volleyball team tantalized its fans not once, not twice, but three times against the defending Class 2A state champion.
Burlington-Edison, though, still doesn't tantalize anyone. The Tigers - who haven't lost a Northwest Conference match since 2010 - just keep coming up with outstanding athletes, as Burlington's 16-25, 25-13, 25-18, 25-23 victory demonstrated on Thursday, Sept. 21.
The McTaggart sisters, senior setter Molly and junior outside hitter Maggie, were often overshadowed last year by four graduated standouts on a 31-0 team. Now it's their turn in the spotlight, as they emphatically showed while spoiling an upset bid led by Lynden hitters Maddi Hommes, Brooke Bonsen and 6-foot sophomore Kat Webb, who had a team-high 12 kills.
The McTaggarts, displaying the poise they developed under pressure last season, combined for 37 for 37 serving perfection and five aces.
Maggie, displaying surprising power for a 5-foot-8 junior, unloaded a match-high 24 kills with obvious ferocity. Meanwhile, Molly logged 36 assists in a near-perfect floor game.
"They're a good, well-coached, tough team," said Lynden coach Angie Dallas of Burlington. "Every year, they always come ready to play. We seemed ready to play, but not ready to finish."
That was only true for the final three games. In the first game, the Lions (3-2, 2-1 NWC) finished superbly at the point they led 16-15.
Lynden ran off a 9-1 surge, which began with a kill by Kelsey Bouwman and an ace by Hommes and ended with two kills by Webb and an ace by Bouwman. That was the first time the Lions tantalized fans with their potential.
A sloppy second game showed why Dallas said, "We need to work hard on our serve-receive. That was the whole (problem with the) second game, and why we gave up the last five points of the fourth game."
The second tantalizing effort began when the Tigers (4-1, 3-0 NWC) led 18-7 in the third game. The Lions rattled off four consecutive kills - two by Hommes, one by Bouwman and one by Stephanie Somers - followed by an ace from Bonsen.
The Tigers shook it off and used four kills by the remarkably improved Maggie McTaggart to finish. In the tight fourth game, tantalizing time No. 3 for the Lions resulted in a 23-20 lead before the Tigers scored five points in a row - only one on a direct kill. That came from Maggie McTaggart to start the rally.
"Maggie played libero at state last year," said longtime Burlington coach Tawnya Brewer. "She's grown a couple of inches. She has really worked to improve. When she was a freshman, she had trouble getting the ball over the net."
That's not good news for the NWC, as the Lions learned despite encouraging offensive efforts from Webb (12 kills) and seniors Hommes (9 kills) and Bonsen (6 kills, 9 digs in a hustling effort).
"I do think the match showed we have quite a bit of potential," said Dallas.
When it was suggested that maybe playing a defending state champion the caliber of Burlington's program might have caused a few jitters, Dallas wouldn't buy it.
"That's no excuse," she said, flashing her usual competitive grin.
Brewer's team, which has only two seniors in Molly McTaggart and middle hitter Kim Rabenstein, figures only to get better. However, the Tigers lost a non-league match to NWC rival Anacortes and showed this may be the Seahawks' year.
"I'd say Anacortes (which Lynden visits on Tuesday, Sept. 25) has shown it's the favorite," said Brewer, using a wily veteran coach's comment at an opportune time.