Emily Yost’s new volleyball coach at Mount Baker calls the powerful 5-foot-10 senior setter “a hitter at heart.”
But the three-sport standout is needed at setter, so Yost is grateful to have one of the area’s best young hitting prospects, sophomore Tanya Kashubin, alongside her in the front row.
Kashubin had a match-high 20 kills, including seven in the final game, and 6-foot-2 senior Maddy Tanis had 13 kills in Mount Baker’s 3-2 Northwest Conference win over Nooksack on Tuesday, Oct. 14.
The match was played with such spirit and noise that there was no way a stranger could have guessed the two Class 1A teams came in with a combined overall record of 3-14 in the predominantly 2A conference.
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It was nonetheless an important match, since the Mountaineers (3-6, 3-4 NWC) now hold the edge over the Pioneers (1-9, 1-7) in the scramble for the NWC’s No. 1 seed in the Northwest District Tournament. Coming off a similar 3-2 win over Blaine, the Mounties now hold tiebreakers over both 1A rivals.
Baker has five regular-season matches remaining in a 13-day span, so its 25-21, 25-22, 14-25, 19-25, 15-11 win over Nooksack was especially important.
“She’s an incredible asset, an incredible passer,” Baker coach Paige Huttula said of Yost, who had well over four dozen assists in a near-perfect floor game. “She’s a hitter at heart, but we need her to be a setter. She leads by example.”
Yost said her teammates played “collectively, one of our best matches. Their passes to me helped a lot. We knew it would be a big match and coach Paige did a great job of getting us ready.”
Yost couldn’t be more thrilled to have an athlete the caliber of Kashubin, who at 5-foot-7 was the shortest regular on the floor except for the two liberos.
Kashubin, however, leaps like a 6-footer and displayed that skill throughout the match.
“Tanya really gets up there, and she’s loud and aggressive,” Yost said. “It’s nice that she’s so reliable.”
Tall juniors Ellie Baddeley, Emily Brandland and Kaylee Schemstad also did a good job of fending off the Pioneers, who were led by junior libero Mariah Perry’s 41 digs, plus 10 kills by Avery TenKley and 9 kills by 6-foot-2 junior Brianna Turner.
Speaking of good jobs, Huttula assigned Roslyn Schneider, a senior defensive specialist, to open the final set as server. She responded by serving all five points with poise as the Mounties got off to a 5-0 advantage.
“Roslyn has great confidence and consistency,” Huttula said.
“Mariah Perry really played smart,” Nooksack coach Katie Emmons said. “She’s really good at listening and does a good job of reading hitters.”
Emmons, noting that Nooksack’s dominant comebacks in the third and fourth games were encouraging, said the match wasn’t a total loss by any means.
“To be honest, I’m pretty disappointed we lost, but there’s still room for growth,” Emmons said.
In the final set, Turner’s backline kill pulled the Pioneers within 11-7, but Tanis responded with an accurate kill on the left-side line. Kashubin made her final two kills and an error on Nooksack ended the match.
Even though the match was played with intensity throughout, all five sets were decided by errors.
On one play in the final set, Verry intensely made a save so high the ball nearly hit the ceiling, but it came down close enough so that the play could be saved and Baker converted a point to take a 9-4 advantage.
In Nooksack’s third- and fourth-set comebacks, Tenkley, Turner, Olivia Berkan and setter Abbi Steele all turned in several big plays along with Lacey Johnson, whose kills put the Pioneers ahead 24-14 in the third set and 23-16 in the fourth. Berkan’s backline kill scored the penultimate point in the fourth set.