Ferndale’s volleyball team isn’t supposed to be this good, at least on paper.
The Golden Eagles lost several seniors from their 2013 trip to state, and only have one senior on their 2014 roster – setter Abby Reid.
Yet, Ferndale just secured another trip to state with a 25-22, 26-24, 25-22 win over Oak Harbor on Saturday, Nov. 8, at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in the Class 3A Northwest District Tournament consolation final.
“It feels great,” Reid said. “All of our hard work is finally paying off and we deserve it.”
What the Golden Eagles lack in experience, they more than make up for in heart, which was most notable in a second-set comeback victory Saturday.
Trailing 24-18, Ferndale went on an eight-point run to win the set 26-24, giving the Golden Eagles the opportunity to get the sweep on the next set.
“It really comes down to heart and just not giving up,” Ferndale coach Pattie Hoelzle said. “They play together and they communicate and they don’t panic like other teams that I’ve had.”
Many of the Ferndale players have played together since they were 12, too, Hoelzle noted, and that certainly helps with communication.
It also helps to have Reid running the offense.
“We all play together and we all believe in each other. We trust each other,” Reid said. “We’ve bonded as a team so much and that’s helped a lot.”
Ferndale was forced to spread out its attack after middle blocker Taryn Potter went down with an injury in the middle of the week. Potter was one of the top players and a key starter for Ferndale.
“We knew that we had to come out with heart and we knew we had to make some adjustments different than what we’ve been playing for the whole season,” Hoelzle said. “They just executed the game plan.”
Potter was in part replaced by Rose Compton, who had a great start with a block on the first play and helped Ferndale get out to an 8-4 lead in the first set before the eventual 25-22 win.
Outside hitter Whitney Walker ended with 14 kills and Julia Olson finished with nine kills and three aces.
“I knew they were going to be hitting the court hard,” Hoelzle said of her team. “They’re so coachable and such a lovely bunch of girls. I’m really proud of them.”
After a close first set and then a comeback second set, Ferndale came out determined to win the third set and take home the sweep.
The Golden Eagles were on the other side of that coin Thursday night, when they fell behind two sets to none to Glacier Peak, before rallying to get the win in the loser-out match.
Ferndale got out to a 17-10 lead before a 7-1 run by Oak Harbor made the game 19-18.
The Golden Eagles finished strong to close out the Wildcats.
“It just shows this is literally the most committed group of girls I’ve ever had,” Hoelzle said.
It was the third meeting between Ferndale and Oak Harbor this year. The Golden Eagles won 3-1 in the first match of the season and then beat the Wildcats 3-0 in the opening round of districts.
The two wins against Oak Harbor undoubtedly helped coming into Saturday’s contest.
“We have film on them, we know who their hitters are and we believed coming in that we could win today,” Hoelzle said.
Ferndale will enter the state tournament as District 1’s No. 3 seed. The Golden Eagles will have until Saturday, Nov. 14, to prepare before they head down to Lacey where the tournament will be held at Saint Martin’s University and Timberline High School.
Last season, the Golden Eagles were on the wrong side of two five-set matches in the state tournament, which eliminated them from contention.
It is the 12th time Ferndale has made state. The Golden Eagles were state champions in 1986.