High School Sports

Bellingham volleyball outlasts Lynden

Bellingham’s Olivia Bjorklund and Anna Zeegers, the only seniors on the court for the Red Raiders, wanted much more than to make recent school history with a win over Lynden for the second year in a row.

They also thirsted to show how well their mothers have built a volleyball program at Bellingham. And they hungered to look like a district tournament-worthy team.

Bellingham’s 3-2 Northwest Conference win over Lynden on Thursday, Oct. 16, accomplished all of that and maybe more, especially in the way of building a young team’s confidence.

The Red Raiders (7-4, 5-4) likely will need another win or two in their final three matches — against Sedro-Woolley, Mount Baker and unbeaten Sehome — to clinch the first Class 2A Northwest District spot the current seniors have ever enjoyed.

Five NWC teams will advance to the eight-team tournament, so Lynden (5-5, 5-3) also figures to need a few more victories — against Burlington-Edison, Ferndale, Mount Baker and Squalicum — to clinch a district berth.

“I’m really proud of our girls, because they so badly want to get to district,” said Bellingham head coach Kim Bjorklund as equally proud assistant coach Janice Zeegers stood by with a grin.

“Our girls were able to rise up to the pressure, which our teams have not previously been able to do,” said Kim Bjorklund, who is in her 13th year as head coach. “Last year was our first win over Lynden (since 2000, when Bellingham reopened following a two-year remodel).”

Anna Zeegers agreed.

“This win was bigger than last year’s 3-0 win over Lynden. I would loooove to go to district,” she said, verbally spelling love with at least four o’s. “It would mean the world to us.”

The two fourth-year varsity players know whereof they speak, having endured more than their share of disappointments.

The two power-hitting seniors – who said their other senior, 5-foot-11 Fiona Donovan, would be back next week from an injury — pointed out how they had plenty of non-senior help.

“No slackers on our team!” Olivia Bjorklund said, pointing out how junior power hitter Summer Douglas and sophomore libero Sophia Lawrence consistently stood out.

Douglas sparked the Red Raiders’ 22-25, 26-24, 25-18, 23-25, 15-9 win with a match-high 20 kills and Zeegers and Bjorklund contributed 11 apiece. Lawrence had a match-high 37 digs and the 6-foot-1 Zeegers had a remarkable 20 of the hustling team’s 111 digs.

Sophomore setter Cassidy Fulton, who earned a recent promotion to the varsity, played all but the fourth set and had a match-high 34 assists. Brittany Western, a junior setter, played well in the fourth set with eight assists.

Junior middle blocker Jocelyn Johnson had two blocks and contributed everywhere else, while Zeegers had five aces and Bjorklund scored four. Olivia Ferguson, a versatile 5-9 sophomore, also made frequent contributions in several areas.

Lynden coach Julie Clift felt her team learned a lot about tempo.

“We played well, but we let Bellingham control the tempo for too much of the time,” she said.

Lynden’s leaders were Taryn Frey with nine kills, Alexa Shindruk and libero Catyler Alex with 27 digs apiece, Jenna Bonsen with three aces and Kaitlyn Mark with 25 assists.

In the fifth set, Lawrence scored the winner with an ace when the Lions could not return her serve. Bellingham scored five points in a row to take a 13-8 lead as Zeegers made three kills, all on different types of shots, Bjorklund scored an ace and Douglas made a key kill before Lynden’s Maddie Kramme temporarily kept the Lions in it with a cross-court kill.

It was fitting that Zeegers and Bjorklund, who served all five points on that late rally, were so effective in the clinching set.

“Our mothers were still playing volleyball (as friends and teammates) when they were pregnant with us,” Zeegers said with a laugh as lifelong buddy Bjorklund giggled in agreement.

In the fourth set, the Lions fended off the Red Raiders after falling behind 19-12. Lynden’s big plays in the comeback included backline kills by Shindruk, Kramme and Hannah Hommes, followed by a kill by the powerful Frey and an ace by Bonsen.

Bellingham’s win in the third set was highlighted by Fulton’s dazzling save off a dive to the floor and Douglas’ kill off Fulton’s pass. Johnson made the set-ending kill to cap a 13-7 Raiders run after the Lions pulled within 12-11. Douglas also ended the tight second set with a kill on an impressive power shot.

Both teams opened the match with a pair of scoring streaks of either six or seven points apiece, showing it would be a long night of highly competitive volleyball.

In all, Bellingham scored 111 points and Lynden had 101 in the marathon match.






































On Wed, Oct 15, 2014 at 12:26 PM, ng_blh@cci.mcclatchy.com> wrote:

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