The Waterville-Mansfield Shockers volleyball team came to the state playoffs with the same intensity that led them to a district championship. While the team gained valuable experience, seeing what is required to help them take the next step in becoming contenders for the state championship, they did not return home with a trophy. In their opening match, the Shockers fell to the fifth-seeded Neah Bay Red Devils 21-25, 15-25, and 17-25. Then in their elimination match Saturday evening, the Shockers fell to the 13-seed Republic Tigers 21-25, 12-25, 25-24, and 15-25.
While the results were not what the Shockers were hoping for, the team did not enter the state tournament timidly. Instead, they played ferociously, looking for return opportunities on any ball hit to their side of the ball, crisply passing to each other, and attacking the net. They played like players much taller than they were, never backing down from their opponents.
In the opening match, the Red Devils had three players listed at 5 foot 10 inches or taller compared to only one player, Ella Osborne on the Shockers’ roster. Yet, Osborne took the fight at the net right at the Red Devils, refusing to back down. It seemed like almost every point involved multiple battles between her and the Red Devils’ front row. Her intensity at the net with inspired play by Tiera Miller who, despite her 5-foot-5 inch frame, continued to attack the much taller Neah Bay players without fear. Johnna Hope had another solid night serving, providing the Shockers with some much needed consistency, as well as coming up with several big plays at the net. Elsie Munson was a player possessed on the back line, constantly making digs that forced the Red Devils to work for their points. Bailey Viebrock and Harlie Zones also came up with several big digs against a hard hitting Neah Bay team. Alexa Garcia provided crisp sets to her teammates all night. In the end, the match was decided by the Red Devils being able to consistently go on streaks gaining them the lead.
While the Shockers continued to fight throughout their match against the Tigers late Saturday night, Republic proved to be too much, ending the Shockers playoff run for the season. Official statistics for the Shockers’ state playoff matches were not available at the time this article was written.
While not mentioned as much throughout these two matches, Natalie Rendon, Julia Ashley, Jimenia Garcia, Evalee Shafer, and Jada Freels all played a big role throughout the regular season and the district playoffs, making significant contributions to the Shockers’ success this season.
Their season did not end the way they hoped, but the Shockers volleyball team has a lot to be proud of. In addition to reaching the coveted state playoffs, the Shockers won their district during the regular season with a 6-1 conference record, they hosted their district’s playoff tournament, and they steamrolled their way through that tournament, winning the district championship while dropping just one game in three playoff matches. The players will also be able to carry over the invaluable experience they gained in their district and state playoff matches into their other sports’ seasons as well as next year’s volleyball season. Indeed, the future continues to look bright for the Waterville-Mansfield Shockers volleyball team.