BELLINGHAM - Mariners senior hitter Taylor Lyall looked more like a pitcher during Sehome's conference clash against Bellingham.
Lyall served up balls with top spin, no spin and ones with so much spin the Red Raiders' back row had no chance to dig them.
Joined by big nights from Dani Johnson and Erika Smith, Lyall displayed her hitting abilities when Sehome needed it most, leading the Mariners to a 25-18, 25-6, 25-23 sweep of city-rival Bellingham on Tuesday, Oct. 8, at Sehome High School.
"Bellingham came out with a vengeance," Sehome coach Kristy White said. "They were coming in for a big win. They play the same offense-defense as we do, so we knew some of the holes and how to execute that."
Lyall posted a game-high six aces with eight kills and nine digs, Smith had a team-best 12 kills and Johnson added 10.
Sehome (8-0, 6-0 NWC), which entered the match ranked No. 6 in the state in Class 2A, won its sixth match in a row needing only three games and has now won 19 consecutive sets dating back to a 3-1 win against Anacortes on Sept. 17.
The Red Raiders (5-3, 3-3 NWC) were on their way to snapping Sehome's consecutive sets win streak during the first game, but Sehome "hunkered down," pulled out a first-set win and carried that momentum over to a dominant second set.
Bellingham defensive specialists Tess Owen and Catie Welch helped keep the match close early with strong defensive play against Sehome's talented hitters. Points by Izzi Roberts, Olivia Bjorklund, Anna Zeegers and Summer Douglas helped Bellingham match Sehome at 16 during the first game, but poor serve-receiving and a number of hitting blunders helped Sehome make a 6-0 run the Red Raiders couldn't bounce back from.
Following a Lyall kill, Zeegers committed a hitting error, and Sehome took the first game 25-18.
"Like they've done in a couple other matches, they said, 'Hey, this is our court. This is our game,'" said White of her Mariners. "They took care of it, and it was nice to see them do that on their own."
The Red Raiders took too long to recover after losing the first game. The second game was all Sehome.
White said she's emphasized siding out on the first ball, and Sehome did just that during a lopsided 25-6 second-set win.
"The second game, you could tell by the score that we actually sided out every serve," White said. "That has been our goal."
Sehome opened the second set with a 9-0 run after Bellingham scored the first point. Lyall served up three aces during the span and began frustrating the Red Raiders' back row with a blend of touch and power serves.
"Taylor had some pretty good jump spins," said Bellingham coach Kim Bjorklund when asked how Sehome was able to build its large early lead. "She got a little knuckleball going. It's all about serve and serve-receive."
The Mariners used another scoring streak in the third set to distance themselves from the Red Raiders. This time is was an 8-0 run after the score was tied at 11. In spite of a valiant third-set comeback - Bellingham tied the game at 23 - Sehome captured the final set after Emily Greer and Smith recorded the last two points with a kill and a block, respectively.
Bjorklund was overall pleased with her club's performance.
"This season, so far, we rise up and play better against better teams, which is nice," Bjorklund said. "I think we put forth a pretty good effort. Our liberos were digging balls and played really well for us."
Sehome travels to Blaine next at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, while Bellingham hosts Sedro-Woolley at the same time and date.
Reach Andrew Lang at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-756-2862.
Reach ANDREW LANG at email@example.com or call ext. 862.