Highland Christian volleyball falls just short of state

COUPEVILLE — The Highland Christian volleyball team got within a game of state, falling to North Sound Christian in a winner-to-state game.

The Lady Knights got there by cruising past Mt. Rainier Lutheran, winning the Nov. 8 district game 18-25, 25-7, 25-14, 25-9.

There were a handful of bright spots in the Knights’ first-game loss, but the girls gave up points on easily corrected errors.

“The biggest thing we talked about after game one was passing,” said Highland Christian coach Anthony Favors. “If we pass well, we’ll be fine.”

The girls found a rhythm they liked in game two and stuck with it. Behind senior setter Aly Hodges’ setting, the girls ran out to a 5-0 lead, with Hodges earning two aces in the process. As the game went on, senior hitter Chelsey Graber started getting a hot hand that had proved so devastating the Knights’ previous victims.

Demonstrating the team’s turnaround, Highland Christian scored the last 11 points without an answer from Mt. Rainier Lutheran, after giving up six serving errors in the first game. Sophomore Bethany Fuller’s serving made the run possible.

The whole team fed off of the Knights’ momentum in game three as eighth-grader Ella Mattson had a key block for a point, Graber and Fuller had multiple aces and senior Kaila Graber was an effective hitter in the middle.

Chelsey Graber had 22 kills and five aces overall, including the game point on games three and four. Her serving effort was matched by Hodges, who had 24 assists. Fuller had a team-high six aces.

Highland ran an up-tempo game. At the height of their scoring runs, the girls often unleashed serves as soon as the whistle blew.

“We use our intensity to intimidate other teams,” Kaila Graber said after the game.

“When things go well, we pump each other up,” added Hodges.

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