WENATCHEE — The spectacular season of the Chelan Goat volleyball team continued on Saturday with a victory over Okanogan in the Caribou Trail League District Championship game at Wenatchee High School.
The Goats, undefeated on the year at 16-0, had not lost a set in league play, however, the upstart Okanogan Bulldogs, the second seed, pushed them unexpectedly in the first set.
It was tight one-point game down the stretch but the experienced and talented Goat team rose to the challenge with a pair blocks late to preserve 25-23 set win.
“Okanogan came out really strong. We haven’t played a set in a while, a real match. We just needed to warm up a little bit. Once we did, we got back in our groove,” said Chelan senior Emma McLaren.
McLaren led the Goats with seven kills in the first set. The key stat was five unforced errors for the normally error-free squad.
The second and third sets were more like the Goats all season. They had no errors in winning the set 25-10. Junior Elly Collins had five kills.
In set three, the Goats dominated, winning 25-5. Collins, a tremendous server, had 11 straight for Chelan down the stretch.
“Once we were able to realize we do deserve to be here and we are a solid team and trust our teammates we were able to play a lot stronger,” said Chelan senior Leanna Garfoot.
McLaren led Chelan with 16 kills. Collins had nine kills. Blocking was excellent for Chelan with eight in the game. McLaren said there blocking success was all a credit to their middle blockers. Garfoot agreed.
“Katie Rainville had an amazing blocking game. She really owned it and that helps a lot,” Garfoot said.
Chelan opens state play on Friday in the Yakima Sun Dome. Their first-round opponent is Zillah.
“We hope that we are on opposite sides of the bracket from Kings. I feel like no matter what, the winner is going to come out of top, so it doesn’t matter about the draw,” McLaren said. “We’ve heard that Kings is strong this year. We know everything about the other teams except Overlake and Meridian. We’re excited to see how they play, but Kings is the one to look out for.”
The wish came true for McLaren as Kings is in the opposite bracket at state. Garfoot said it didn’t matter where they started, they just need to play their game.
McLaren said controlling their nerves at state will be a big thing.
“We were very nervous about today after not playing for a while. Coming out strong. I think we’re pretty good right now,” McLaren said.
Garfoot said repetition and having communication with teammates on the floor is important.
“We’re really lucky to have such a strong bond between each other. As long we keep doing what we’ve been doing, we’ll be okay,” Garfoot said.