Tigers Start Fast, Hold Off Late Warriors Charge


Playing ahead most of the game, the Centralia volleyball team came out firing in the first set, taking a commanding lead, before running into some trouble in the second and final third set in a sweep of Rochester on the road, 25-16, 25-23, 25-21. 

“The first set, we covered well, we served well,” Tigers coach Marti Smith said. “It was a set that we missed the most serves in, however, we served aggressively, we didn’t serve anything easy and got them out of system. It got us to be able to run some offense. The second set, it was more about unforced errors on our side.”

The Tigers started committing errors, and the Warriors started to pick up steam. Smith gave a bunch of credit to a Rochester side that simply wouldn’t quit, as the Warriors took a brief lead in the second set before Centralia picked it up, and held an 11-4 lead in the third set early. 

But after Centralia’s Tatum Johnston saved a point on a hustle play, the switch flipped again for the Tigers. 

“Sometimes it takes that one spark,” Smith said. “Tatum Johnston made an amazing hustle play to keep a rally going that we eventually won. It seemed to really fire everybody up, it gave us new life.”

Swing player and freshman McKenna Smith checked in and served the Tigers all the way back into a tie, and after Rochester briefly took the lead again, her sister and senior Peyton Smith served several points in a row to help the Tigers take the lead for good. 

In the third set alone, the Smith sisters served 18 of 19 with four aces. 

“All the girls started picking things up, they started actually listening and looking for the holes in the defense,” Marti Smith said. “Hollynn Wakefield late in the third set did some nice things attacking some holes in their defense. Each player did something in that third set to get that fire back.”

Peyton Smith added 20 assists, eight digs, and three aces to her line, while McKenna Smith had two aces and was 9 of 10 serving in the third set alone. Lauren Wasson had five kills with 11 digs and five aces, Johnston added four kills and two blocks, and Gracie Schofield had 14 digs. Wakefield went for four kills, as well. 

For the Warriors, it was a game of missed chances. Though they got off to a rough start, 10 missed serves in untimely moments cost them several key points. Additionally, Centralia’s off-speed attacks in system gave Rochester some issues. 

“That hurt us and obviously, in both of the games that were close, we had missed serves that made us lose momentum,” Warriors coach Bridget Morris said. “We couldn’t put it all together at the same time. We have to be better mentally at finishing games.”

Lauren Rotter led Rochester with three aces, a block, and 14 digs, Delaney Winter added four kills, and Roisin Stull was everywhere, per Morris, picking up seven kills and six digs. 

The Warriors take on Aberdeen on Thursday. 

Meanwhile, the Tigers will look to keep it rolling as they start the second round of league play, taking on a Shelton side they took to five sets in a win earlier this year. 

Though it wasn’t always pretty, coach Marti Smith was proud of how her team responded throughout the match against Rochester Tuesday night. 

“I was proud of the start we had to the match, we’ve been slow getting started, it was a great start,” she said. “Even when we found ourselves down, we were able to finish. Proud of the girls for hanging in and believing.”