LYNDEN - Kim Grycel began texting some of her former Lyncs on the eve of the now bi-annual Lynden-Lynden Christian volleyball rivalry match. She wanted to determine the last time LC had beat its crosstown rival.
She started with Jasmine Hommes, asking her if she'd beaten the Lions during her four years. Hommes hadn't.
Then LC coach tried Brianne Ryan. She received the same response: No.
Upon completing her research, Grycel discovered 2005 was the last time her Lyncs had earned a win over the Lions.
Behind 6-foot-1 hybrid setter-outside hitter Madison Weg, Kara Bajema, Emily Veening, Carli Tjoelker, Karley De Jager and others, LC finally snapped Lynden's volleyball reign of city dominance, beating the Lions 26-24, 20-25, 28-26, 25-10 in a back-and-forth non-conference match Tuesday, Sept. 17, at a high-energy Lynden Christian gymnasium filled with equal amounts of blue- and green and yellow-clad supporters.
"It feels good," Grycel said. "It's always a big game, and as much as I try to hype it down to the girls - this one is a non-conference game, it doesn't count, it's just practice, it's for fun - it's still the crosstown rival, and they really wanted to win, so I'm happy for them."
Weg put together a dominating performance in her first real match hitting. Listed as Lynden Christian's setter, the junior power-hitter inflicted arguably more damage to Lynden's defense with Tjoelker setting to her than Weg setting to other teammates.
Weg used her height, leaping ability and tremendous arm strength to record a career-best and game-high 22 kills. Many of those came from Tjoelker's 24 assists. Kara Bajema, another 6-foot-1 hitter, chipped in 14 kills and Emily Veening had 25 digs.
"I was kind of shocked," said Weg of her reaction when she heard her stats. "I didn't know I could hit that much. It let little Carli (Tjoelker) set, so that was good for her, too."
Both Grycel and new Lynden coach Julie Clift acknowledged the match had no postseason implications. But for a non-conference game, the environment was as intense as a Northwest Conference volleyball player could ask for. It benefitted the home Lyncs early.
Lynden Christian opened the first set with a 20-9 lead and appeared to be in complete control before Lynden went on an impressive 14-3 run to tie the match at 23 thanks to a pair of aces from Lynden's Kat Webb, who had a team-high 13 kills, and two kills from Stephanie Somers toward the back end of the run.
Tied at 24, Weg put her Lyncs in front 25-24 followed by a statement-making cross-court kill to put the Game 1 away. Grycel was extremely pleased with her club's poise under pressure.
"I think we needed that something to get us going, and them getting ahead was that boost that gave us that energy to get us going," Weg said.
Following a 25-20 second set win by Lynden in which the Lions settled in and played with consistency, Lynden Christian's strong play in pressure-packed situations showed once more during the third set.
Both teams went blow-for-blow from 20 points on, and Lynden found itself serving for the all-important Game 3 win at 25-24. LC's Hannah Wynstra tied the match at 25 with a huge kill coming out of a timeout, and Somers made two hitting errors to give the Lyncs the win.
"That has been the reason I think we have lost before, is because we have feared losing instead of playing to win," Grycel said. "When we called that timeout I said, 'Go out there, and hit the ball and make them beat us.' Hannah got a big hit."
Clift said her club was mentally spent after battling through three emotional sets, and it showed in the fourth. Lynden Christian made the plays it needed to, and the Lions made a number of unforced errors, costing them a 25-10 defeat and a seven-year win streak over their city rival.
Behind Webb's 13, Hannah Rothwell had five kills and Somers added eight. Lynden also received a big lift on defense from sophomore defensive specialist Catyler Alex.
"We were able to work some things out tonight, and I think we got better at a lot of things," Clift said. "We'll come out better next time, and each day we are doing a little bit more, and that's our goal, keep climbing that ladder."
Reach Andrew Lang at email@example.com or call 360-756-2862.
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