YAKIMA — The Mossyrock volleyball team came out of the gate looking like the true No. 2 squad in the state Thursday, blitzing No. 18 Grace Academy early. And while the Vikings cooled off significantly at times, they still rode out easy winners, 25-13, 25-16, 25-15 to get its 1B state tournament road started.
“Well, we won, and that’s the most important thing,” Mossyrock coach Alex Nelson said. “It’s very nervewracking to come into your first set, a few girls were nervous and a few girls were not feeling well. But like I told them, I’ve seen them play amazing when they’re not playing well. We did fine. I think the nerves were getting to them a little bit there, but luckily the matchup meant we have a little time to get things rolling here.”
Luckily for the Vikings, sophomore setter Erin Cournyer showed no nerves whatsoever. Returning to Yakima for the first time with State experience, Couryner took the ball back to the service line to start the match and didn’t give it up until the score was 9-0, a streak that involved five aces and didn’t see Grace Academy manage to get the ball back over the net successfully for seven straight points.
“Erin served very well for us, which I think took a little pressure off,” Nelson said. “She’s been doing that all season long, starting strong on serve, and ending and being clutch there.”
The sophomore finished with a filled-out statistical line: 13 assists, nine digs, six aces, and six kills.
As a team, the Vikings finished with 14 aces, to six service errors, one of which came when a server took one too many steps back for their run-up, and got called for stepping off the court, something you don’t see until State.
“Our goal is to win the serving game and the serve-receive game,” Nelson said. I think we did well in those two departments. We could hit a little better, but serving was definitely a strength, especially for Erin.”
After that first set, though, the Vikings quieted down, both in terms of energy and output. The Eagles stuck around better to end the first set, and throughout the second and third, though they never saw a lead larger than a point.
Payton Torrey racked up 12 kills, three aces, and nine digs. Paige Houghtelling added a 10-kill, 10-dig double-double.
Hailey Brooks finished with nine kills, four of which came in the final set, as the Vikings started serving more up the middle.
“We’ve got a lot of weapons, so when a few have some nerves, we’re fine,” Nelson said.
Mossyrock will get a couple of hours off before returning to the court to face No. 7 Northport in a quarterfinal.