WENATCHEE — The first set was tight and very competitive, but ultimately, there was no changing of the guard Tuesday night in terms of volleyball supremacy in the Big 9.
As of now, the defending state champion, West Valley Rams still remain atop the division after sweeping the Wenatchee Panthers 26-24, 25-10 and 25-17 at Wenatchee High School.
The Panthers gave their all in the opening game and were a point away from nabbing their first set against the Rams in five matches, but West Valley rallied and scored three-straight points to take the set. That letdown seemed to carry over into the second and third because Wenatchee lost its spark offensively and fell behind early in each set.
“I just don’t think we showed up to compete in sets two and three,” Panthers head coach Connor Metcalfe said after the match.
Outside hitters Abby Black and Alex Toth combined for 12 kills in a back-and-forth first set, but they weren’t given a ton of chances the rest of the match as the Panthers struggled with their serve-receive.
“(West Valley) served really well with low, flat serves over the net and,” Metcalfe said. “They hit serving targets and we froze up and just didn’t pass. It’s hard to stay in our system and spread out the offense when you are out of position 85 percent of the match.”
West Valley scored seven of the first 10 points to start the second before going on a seven-point run to take control of the set. Wenatchee managed to hold serve just twice in the set, and for only two points.
Wenatchee had a worse start to the third set, falling behind 9-2 early on. The Panthers showed some resolve and scored six-consecutive points to pull back within four at 14-18. But their effort came up short.
West Valley went on to take seven of the next 10 points to win the match.
“We stay in our system and fight through adversity by being mechanically and fundamentally disciplined,” Metcalfe said, “and we just didn’t do that tonight. (West Valley) are the defending champs, and though they lost a lot of seniors, they are still a good program and squad.”
Metcalfe and the Panthers will look to get back in the winning column Thursday night when they travel to play Ike.
“They are a good program with a lot of history and Brad is a good coach,” Metcalfe said of the Cadets. “We’ll work hard in practice to be ready to go Thursday when we play.”
First serve is at 7 p.m.