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No peace in the valley for Willows
Like an alarm clock going off far too early, the West Valley High volleyball team ended Willows' dream of returning to the Northern Section Division IV championship match by handing them a 25-16, 25-19, 25-19 loss in Cottonwood on Thursday.
The sixth-seeded Honkers ran into a No. 2 West Valley side that passed well, defended well, swung hard, and that featured the pinpoint sets of Taylor Ross, who Willows coach Carol Martin said is one of the best at her position in the section.
"It was going to take almost a perfect match for us to win," said Martin, and she conceded that it was not the Honkers' finest showing of the season.
"We were not passing it up to the net; we're a stronger hitting team than that."
The Eagles (27-9) are also an exceptionally deep squad, with coach Carla Davis substituting at will and always have a strong six on the court.
West Valley charged out to a 6-2 lead in Game 1 behind kills from Alexis Lobsinger, Hailey McDaniel and Cassie Naegle, along with a Naegle tip. The majority of West Valley's kills came off assists provided by Ross, who rarely telegraphed where she was going to set the ball, making the task of defending even more of a challenge for Willows.
After earning the first point of Game 1 the Honkers never led the rest of the way.
The Lady Honkers were able to regroup slightly for the second game, and actually held a 13-11 lead midway through, before a Brittany Emerson ace regained the advantage for West Valley - a lead they would never relinquish.
Facing a 2-0 deficit it would have been easy for the Lady Honkers to have their heads down waiting for Game 3 to begin, but the huddle was still full of smiles as Willows took it in stride.
A block by JV call-up Morgan Hughes was followed by an Ally Brunner kill and an ace by Mary Feeney in the third game to put the Honkers out front 5-1, but a West Valley run turned things around and the Honkers found themselves trailing 10-7.
There was just too much firepower on the home side of the net as the loss ended the Honkers season at 29-9.
"This is the time of year when most teams end the season with a loss," Martin remarked. "The backbone of this team was the seniors who have been with me for three years. I'm super proud of the girls. West Valley played super smart and knew how to move the ball around."
CONTACT Craig Purcell at 824-1036 or email@example.com.