LONGVIEW — After a decisive loss to defending state runner-up Ridgefield in the first round of the 2A District 4 tournament, the W.F. West volleyball team needed to refocus and get ready for a nightcap matchup against Hockinson with its season on the line Thursday at Myklebust Gym of Lower Columbia Community College.
The Bearcats responded after the loss, defeating the Hawks in a loser-out consolation match in four sets, 25-16, 21-25, 25-20, 25-12.
“The main thing was to go out and have fun, it's one team and let's play for each other and with each other,” Bearcats coach Robert Lucas said of the mindset before the second game. “They also knew that they had just played someone that was really good, we weren’t used to the speed that they were running at.”
After a barrage of spikes and kills rained down on the Bearcats against the Spudders at 4 p.m. in Mark Morris’ gym, W.F. West knew that Hockinson would be a challenge, but one that it could take on.
The Bearcats erupted in the first set after a mostly back-and-forth first half, pulling away for a dominant 25-16 win, before hitting a lull in Set 2.
It wasn’t until midway through the third set that the Bearcats played like themselves again, with seniors Mari Ceesay and Morgan Rogerson leading the way with 12 and 14 kills, respectively.
“Mari and Mo both were starting to play a bit smarter, putting the ball where they weren’t,” Lucas said. “The stats don’t say if it was a tip or a hard hit ball, they just needed to put it where Hockinson wasn’t and that changed the energy and their confidence.”
The setter pair of Saige Brindle and Savannah Hawkins added 30 combined assists, libero Courtney Jones dug up 24 balls, and middle Julia Dalan had four solo blocks.
It was a big result for a Bearcats’ team that will live to fight another day. That day will be Saturday at 1 p.m. when W.F. West plays in a loser-out, winner-to-state game against the loser of Mark Morris and Columbia River to be played earlier that day.
Playing for their season, Lucas said the Bearcats are just going to be loose, and whoever it is that they play, they’ll give them their best shot.
“It could be the end of the season so let’s go out and have fun, or we’ll go to state,” Lucas said. “We want to be one of those four.”