EAST WENATCHEE — Fans certainly got their money’s worth Wednesday night.
Eastmont’s volleyball tilt with Ephrata was an absolute battle, filled with electrifying runs and deflating losses for both squads. But the Wildcats were able to pull out the win in five sets (25-21, 25-22, 25-27, 15-25, 16-14) and send their five seniors off with a win on Senior Night.
The match was exhilarating to the very end.
“Oh my gosh, that’s one way to put it,” Eastmont head coach Karinne Davis said after the win. “I’m pretty sure I wasn’t breathing after the third set.”
The Wildcats won the first two sets but both required a late comeback in each.
The Wildcats stormed out to an early lead in the first set but the Tigers hung around and eventually went on a seven-point run to take an 18-15 advantage. Eastmont responded with a four-point run of its own to retake the lead briefly but Ephrata recaptured momentum and scored three-of-the-next-four points. The Wildcats, somehow, recovered and secured five-straight points to take the set.
Both teams traded runs at the start of the second set and, at one point, the score was level 11-11. But the Tigers started stringing together a few runs and took a commanding 20-13 lead behind senior Hayden Mills and junior Lindsay Addink — who combined for 21 kills in the match.
Initially, it looked like the set was over. But the Comeback ’Cats chipped away, cutting the lead to four (22-18) before going on a demoralizing seven-point run to close out the set and take a 2-0 lead in the match.
After a pair of discouraging losses, one would think the Tigers would come out a little flat in the third. They did not. Ephrata won the first four-points and again jumped out to a 7-3 lead. The Tigers led the entire match, bumping the advantage to six at one point (18-12). But again, the Wildcats showed their resilience and eventually overtook the Tigers at 24-23, serving for the match. Both teams traded points — again giving Eastmont a match point — but Ephrata scored three-in-a-row to steal set three.
Author’s note: I used to cover the University of Hawai’i men’s and women’s volleyball team while in college and almost always when a team, like Ephrata, survives a match-point and nabs the third set, they also win the fourth to force the tiebreaker. It’s like clockwork.
Naturally, Eastmont came out completely flat in the fourth set. Ephrata was able to jump out to a big lead midway through and close out the set to send the match into a fifth-set tiebreaker.
But the Wildcats refocused during the break and started the set with urgency. Senior Rylee Hersh pounded a kill for the first point of the set and Eastmont scored six of the first nine points. That’s when it really got interesting.
Both teams played Hot-Potato with the lead as each went on a four-point run (twice) until Eastmont was serving for the match ahead 14-12. Ephrata battled back to level the score but Eastmont sealed the match following an ace by sophomore Tori Wolsborn.
“That was a huge relief,” Davis said. “I can finally breathe again. I think we were just flat in the fourth set after battling back in the third, but I’m glad they could find it in the fifth. I could not be more proud of them and the seniors.”
Junior Ashlynn Grasseth paced the team with 15 kills, four blocks and three aces. Sarah Peterson added eight kills and Hersh chipped in seven kills and a pair of blocks.
With the win, Eastmont finishes its season with a (9-3) record, losing only to Chelan and Wenatchee.
Stats: Eastmont — Ashlynn Grasseth (15 kills, 4 blocks, 3 aces), Sarah Peterson (8 kills), Rylee Hersh (7 kills, 2 blocks), Tori Wolsborn (4 kills, 3 aces, block), Katherine Loomis (2 kills, ace), Isabelle Massey (2 kills, 2 aces), Kaylynn Schmitten (2 kills), Brenda Calvillo (2 aces). Ephrata — Hayden Mills (13 kills, block), Lindsay Addink (8 kills, 2 aces), Addison Mills (6 kills, ace), Paige Heston (4 kills, 3 aces, 2 blocks).