Pateros takes fifth

Girls wrap up state 1B volleyball play by spiking ACH

— The Pateros Nannies rolled to a 3-0 victory over the Almira/Coulee-Hartline Warriors late Saturday afternoon in the SunDome to bring home the state 1B volleyball tournament’s fifth-place trophy.

The award was the highest in the history of the team, which last year captured seventh.

“It’s really exciting,” senior Chloe Gill said of the trophy and 3-0 victory ending the season and her volleyball career for Pateros. “We wanted to win.”

Warriors head coach Katie Walsh credited the Nannies for being a “quality team.”

Pateros won the first two sets decisively, by scores of 25-17 and 25-20.

With the fifth-place trophy on the line, ACH didn’t go down without a fight in the third set. The two teams slugged it out to a final score of Pateros winning 33-31.

“That’s the highest score I’ve seen in my career as a coach,” Walsh said. “They just didn’t let the ball drop. We kept giving it to them; they kept giving it right back.”

“We fought hard,” Pateros coach Gene Dowers said of his team, adding the Nannies improved every time they played ACH this year.

The Nannies finished the 2013 season with an overall 23-1 record, including three victories over ACH.

ACH finished fifth at state last year, and got to the trophy game by beating Sunnyside Christian, 3-2; falling to Mount Vernon Christian, 3-1; and then knocking off Shoreline Christian, 3-0.

“There’s a lot of respect between the teams and fans from Pateros and ACH,” Dowers said.

Pateros earned a spot in the trophy game by defeating Quilcene, 3-0; falling to Christian Faith, 3-0; and spiking a determined Wilbur-Creston team, 3-2.

“That (Wilbur-Creston) was one of the biggest teams we’ve ever played,” sophomore Ashton Steggall said after her team received their trophy Saturday afternoon.

“Our sophomores were phenomenal,” Dowers said.

Wilbur-Creston coach Teri Haglin was nearly speechless over her team’s loss and elimination from the state tournament at the hands of the Pateros girls.

“I am in shock,” she said. “I didn’t think we could lose.”

Prior to the start of the tournament, Wilbur-Creston had been ranked No. 2.

“It was one of the biggest upsets of the tournament,” Dowers said. “One of the gutsiest performances I’ve ever seen.”

Dowers said that’s a mistake a lot of other teams make.

“These guys just need a little door to open,” he said of his team.

Junior EmmaLee Luft, serving for 15 straight points, blew that door wide open in the second set against Wilbur-Creston.

“EmmaLee found her serve and sent 15 sizzlers at them that totally changed the tone of the match,” Dowers said. “Kat (sophomore Katarina Wilson) added 4 kills on second contacts that really rattled Wilbur-Creston.”

“It was a really good run,” Luft said, of giving her team a 22-7 lead. “It brought us up and changed the whole game.”

“It changed it (the tempo) a lot,” Haglin said of the run.

With the game tied at one set each, the Nannies and Wildcats waged a back-and-forth battle through sets three, four and five.

The Nannies pulled out the final set, winning 15-13 and eliminating the Wildcats.

After the game, Pateros sophomore Brandy Woodward said the Nannies knew taking down the Wildcats wouldn’t be easy.

“We knew we were going to have to work as hard as we could,” she said.

The victory felt good to the girls after dropped three straight sets – 28-26, 27-25 and 25-19 – to Christian Faith in the state quarterfinals Friday night.

In that game, the Nannies just couldn’t put the games away, and fell to the Eagles in their only loss of the year.

“It was a great battle,” Dowers said. “It doesn’t get much better than that.”

Pateros had an opportunity to win the first two sets, but squandered three set points in the first set and four in the second, opening the door for the Eagles’ come-from-behind wins.

Christian Faith coach Stephanie Pond said her girls had been training for set-point deficits.

“It was a tough win,” she said of the games. “But we practiced that scenario.”

Christian Faith went on to take second place, losing the state title match to Tekoa-Oakesdale. Last year, Pateros eliminated Christian Faith from the state tournament.

Pond called Pateros a “scrappy” team with a lot of heart.

“They never gave up,” she said. “You can tell their coach really invests a lot in them.”

The Nannies opened state Friday with an easy 3-0 victory over the Quilcene Rangers, 26-24, 25-11 and 25-13.

Quilcene coach Joni Crowell credited Pateros for a game well-played.

“They are scrappy,” she said. “They played very, very good defense.”

Quilcene went on to win the eighth-place state trophy.

Several players were sick during the tournament, Dowers said.

“Grace Williams was the worst,” he said. “Not a shining day on Friday, but something medicinal kicked in on Saturday and she played very well in the last two.”

Steggall was presented the Sportsmanship Award for the game against Quilcene.

She summed up her team’s philosophy by saying:

“We can have really good sportsmanship and be respectful.”

Looking ahead, Dowers said the Nannies will graduate their “big seniors,” but still have a scrappy team stacked with talent.

“The tournament was a fantastic team effort that brought the high school volleyball careers of these two outstanding players (Chloe Gill and Jessi Dowers) to a close with a trophy,” he said. “But our freshmen are going to be a surprise.”

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