YAKIMA — The Mossyrock volleyball team had its opening-round matchup to shake off the rust. The Vikings were finally getting their legs under them. And yes, they did see the scattering of fans and coaches from No. 1 Oakesdale, come over before their own match to get a read on the top challenger to their crown.
The Vikings took all of those factors and rolled in their second match at the SunDome on Thursday, putting the pedal to the metal to sweep No. 7 Northport 25-13, 25-14, 25-11 to cap a day where they started out a bit far from perfect but achieved everything they needed to.
“We were playing with a lot more energy, that was great,” Mossyrock head coach Alex Nelson said. “We came out and said, ‘No excuses,’ and we came out with a complete match. We played from beginning to end.”
Coming in, the Vikings knew that the Mustangs boasted a strong serving game, so beyond simply winning, the focus was on winning quickly, keeping Northport off the line and getting sets over with before it could go on a run.
And with Payton Torrey and Hailey Brooks leading the serve-receive charge, the Vikings did just that.
“We said that we didn’t need it up to target, we don’t always need three options on serve-receive,” Nelson said. “We just need it up so we can set it, and if we put up a high pass, we can set anyone. It doesn’t always have to be in the front row, we can hit pretty well in the back row… We won the serve and serve-receive game, and everything fell into place. Our setting has always been pretty consistent, and our hitting.”
Torrey also led the way on the hitting side of things, posting a team-high 11 kills to go along with 18 digs.
“She plays so consistent,” Nelson said.
Paige Houghtelling put up eight kills, seven digs, and five aces. Caelyn Marshall logged 18 assists, five kills, and seven digs at one setter spot, and Erin Cournyer had 14 assists, six kills, and four aces at the other. Brooks put down five kills and also had 14 digs and a pair of aces.
Abbie Lovan logged 12 digs, and Chesney Schultz had six.
The win puts the Vikings right back in the semifinals, for the sixth straight postseason; Mossyrock made the Final Four in each of its last four seasons as a 2B school, then finished second last year in its first season in 1B.
The Vikings will face No. 3 Mary Walker, which also swept both of its Thursday matches, Friday at 11:45 a.m. On the other side of the bracket, both Oakesdale and No. 4 Naselle also loom.
But for Nelson, there’s less stress now — not more — on her squad, one sleep away from a chance to get the monkey off their backs.
“I think there’s a little less pressure, and you’ll see more Viking volleyball,” she said. “You take the pressure off by playing well, and it gets a little bit easier. And it spreads to everyone when you’re playing well.”