WENATCHEE — LeAnne McGahuey has seen too much during the Wenatchee volleyball team’s roller-coaster season to read too much into one victory.
It’s part of the reason why the Panthers coach restrained her excitement after watching her team sweep the Moses Lake Chiefs Thursday night in the opening round of the Big Nine 4A district tournament.
After winning the first two sets handily, Wenatchee clawed back from a 24-21 deficit to take the third by the score of 26-24.
“It’s a great way to go into Saturday, and we hope to bring home a district title,” McGahuey said. “There’s still a lot of work to do, though.”
Wenatchee, the No. 3 seed in the tournament, will play second-seeded Chiawana on Saturday at noon at Richland in the semifinal. The top three teams of the four remaining advance to regionals next weekend.
Wenatchee will be riding a wave of momentum into the weekend after snuffing out any hope Moses Lake had of a comeback with some inspired play in the waning moments Thursday.
The Panthers had seemingly absorbed the Chiefs’ best shot midway through the set, taking their first lead at 14-13 and expanding it to 20-16 on Michaela George’s kill.
The Chiefs, playing for their season as well, went on a 9-1 run that gave them a set point opportunity at 24-21. Sadie Nielsen, Moses Lake’s most dangerous hitter that was shackled for most of the evening by Wenatchee’s crisp serving, tipped a ball between a host of gaping Panthers.
McGahuey called a timeout to refocus her team.
“It was unacceptable for us to let a ball drop in the middle of the floor like that,” McGahuey said. “In the timeout, we agreed that we had to do it now.”
“We came out at a different level on those last five points,” said George, who finished with a team-high 13 kills.
As McGahuey is fond of saying, the match-winning rally started with one pass.
Kirsten Clemans set George for another pounder, and when Nielsen hit the next ball into the net, it was Moses Lake coach Amy Utter that needed a timeout.
Wenatchee tied the match at 24 on a dizzying rally that the Panthers’ Rachel Leiber kept alive with a self-preserving dig of a Nielsen laser that may have impaled her if she didn’t get a hand to it.
“It was just one of those fast-twitch muscle things,” said Leiber, who had 12 kills while playing with an abrasion on her hitting hand suffered during pre-match warmups. “It hurts, but I was just doing it for my team.”
Two points later, George slammed a ball down to end it.
“We made each other look good tonight,” McGahuey said.
Brian Adamowsky: 664-7157