EAST WENATCHEE — The Wenatchee volleyball team completed its season sweep of cross-river rival Eastmont on Wednesday in dominating fashion.
The Wildcats’ only lead was a 2-0 advantage to start the third game as the Panthers won 25-9, 25-12, 25-10.
“I think we played really well tonight,” said Wenatchee head coach LeeAnne Branam. “It was actually my favorite match that we’ve played this year because we didn’t play down to another team’s level — we actually played up to our own caliber. It was huge for us to improve, because we sometimes leave matches — even if we win — and we haven’t improved a ton. But tonight we’re leaving a better team than when we got here, which is awesome as a coach.”
Senior middle blocker Kiana Black and outside hitter Rachel Leiber were once again dominant as the team’s big hitters had eight and five kills, respectively. Leiber led the team with eight digs, while Black paced the Panthers with four aces.
Even with the success on Wednesday, Branam said the team could still work on their approach.
“We need to work on being more versatile hitters. Right now we are a one-stop shop at hitting, we hit it hard every single time,” Branam said. “You have to be able to look for kills in other ways. It’s great (that) I have two kids who can hit the ball harder than anyone in the league, but they need to learn how to hit spots on the floor, too.”
Eastmont head coach Molly Nelson was encouraged by how her underdog team fought on Senior Night.
“The scoreboard said it was rough, but my girls played with heart all night, every point,” Nelson said. “I’m very very proud of them.”
Nelson noted that even as the Wildcats suffered sustained setbacks, they never quit on the match, which was the last the team will play at home this year.
“Usually our girls just exist in that downslide, but tonight they continued to fight back and pick it up,” she said.
The loss concluded the Cats’ Diggin for Diapers Drive, in which the team collected 2,058 diapers that will be donated to the Grace House of East Wenatchee.
The Panthers play a huge match against Eisenhower on Tuesday that could determine who wins the Big Nine title. Wenatchee lost to Ike 3-2 at home on Sept. 17, but Branam is confident her young team has grown enough to take the match in Yakima.
“If we play like we did tonight, we’ll beat Eisenhower no problem,” Branam said. “I’m hoping that we have improved more than they have, but I believe we can win it, I really do.”