Ferndale volleyball outside hitter Whitney Walker already had six aces, as the Golden Eagles led 25-24 in the third set.
Sehome certainly didn’t want Walker to be serving the ball in the crucial situation, as the Mariners looked to extend the match.
But just as she had done all game, Walker leaped and pounded the ball into the middle of the Ferndale defense. A sprawling Lexi McGowan couldn’t quite the dig and Ferndale had finished off the 25-19, 25-22, 26-24 sweep of the defending league champions on Tuesday, Sept. 29, at Sehome High School.
“She is a powerful server,” Ferndale (5-1, 3-1 Northwest Conference) coach Patti Hoelzle said of her star junior. “Sometimes that means she gets more errors than other people and we’re OK with that. We’ve been really working on her accuracy as much as her power and tonight she really put it all together.”
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Walker was instrumental in each of Ferndale’s big runs to start sets — recording three aces as the Golden Eagles jumped to a 9-2 lead in the second and two aces in the 6-1 start to the third.
“We were late reading her,” Sehome (4-2, 2-2 NWC) coach Kristy White said. “We were moving back when she was serving and getting beat in front, then we take a guess and sprint forward and she served deep.”
It’s Ferndale’s first win over Sehome since 2010, having dropped the last six matches in the past five years.
“All three years, I’ve been on this team, we’ve never beaten Sehome so it feels really good,” Walker said.
It was a complete turnaround for the Golden Eagles after a disappointing performance last Tuesday in a loss against Lynden Christian. Ferndale made sure to leave it all on the court this time around, as the Golden Eagles try to stay in the hunt for the Northwest Conference title.
“That was really our motivation — to reset ourselves after a disappointing loss last week,” Hoelzle said. “We talked about how we missed out on an opportunity to play like we wanted to play in postseason so tonight was another opportunity and we wanted to grab that and hold it.”
For Sehome, which was also coming off a loss last week (3-0 to Burlington-Edison), it was exactly the opposite feeling.
“It’s frustrating,” White said. “Clearly skill-wise, we’re right there with them. We came back from the hole every single time. ... But we’re just making mental mistakes. We’re not playing smart volleyball and we’re shooting ourselves in the foot unfortunately.”
Sehome rallied in all three sets late, tying the first set 15-15, drawing the second to 23-22 and coming back in the third to make it 24-24. It was just always a little too late for the Mariners.
“We just had a hard time passing the ball,” White said. “Without a pass, you can’t run an offense and without an offense, it’s really hard to play defense against a team like Ferndale.”
The Mariners will hope to respond against Nooksack Valley on Thursday, Oct. 1. Ferndale will face Sedro-Woolley Thursday.
Reach Joshua Hart at 360-715-2238 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whitney Walker 12 kills, 7 aces
Taryn potter 8 kills, 12 digs
Julia Olson 15 digs
Emily Greer 7 kills, 17 digs
Raegan Meggyessy 7 kills, 18 digs, 2 aces
Kayla Thurman 22 assists, 12 digs