Marysville-Pilchuck volleyball rallies to win in four games

MARYSVILLE — In all four of their games against Snohomish, the Marysville-Pilchuck girls were the first team to five points, a goal pushed by volleyball coach Shelly Johnson every year.

But after five points, the first game took a turn for the worse.

A serving error by the Tomahawks gave Snohomish their fifth point and from there the Panthers outscored M-P 20-10 to win the first game.

"In our first game, we started really slow, getting butterflies out of our system," said senior setter Riley Taitingfong. "Coming out in the second game, we picked up our energy and believed in each other a lot more."

The Tomahawk girls went on to win the next three games for a 3-1 victory in the Sept. 8 season opener. Game scores were 15-25, 25-21, 25-17 and 25-21.

Beginning with the second game, the front row became a lot more aggressive as girls paired for multiple blocks and seniors Alisha Oden and Cali Cull had some nice kills from the middle. The middle was a new position for Cull, who moved in from the outside and used her athleticism to adjust to the position, leading the team with 11 kills. Her success rate there was a little under 50 percent, coming from 25 attempts.

Senior outside hitter Mikayla LaRosa added 10 kills, many coming in the third game, which the Tommies led by as many as 10 points. By the fourth game, the volleys got longer and plays sometimes broke down as teams focused on just getting the ball over the net one more time.

"Sometimes it gets hard where everyone gets tired and gets fatigued," Taitingfong said. "Communication breaks down. But we have to remember to communicate."

Some fresh legs came into the fourth game and contributed toward team points. Junior Samantha Minning had a kill to put M-P up 11-4 and sophomore Alexis Fitzmaurice had a kill for what would be the penultimate point of the night. Some unlikely plays favored the home team as well, when junior hitter Makiya Nelson had a desperate dig to keep a volley alive that landed in the Snohomish court and saved a narrow Tomahawk lead.

Johnson said after the game she hoped to see the girls become more deliberate players as the season goes on, a hallmark of some of the Tomahawks' most successful volleyball teams.

"We have a long way to go," Johnson said. "We talk about consistency, eliminating errors. The more consistent the play, the better off for us."

Click here for more Marysville-Pilchuck Volleyball vs. Snohomish 9-8 photos.

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