Coming into the season, the Life Christian volleyball team knew that a repeat of their Nisqually 1A league title was not going to be easy. An early season test against Charles Wright proved that to be true, but the Eagles outlasted the Tarriers in four sets – 25-22, 17-25, 25-19, 25-14 – at home on Sept. 16 to avenge their only league loss last year.
“We kind of struggled at the beginning,” said Life Christian senior setter Carly Normandeau, who led the Eagles with 23 assists. “We’re a slow-starting team, sort of. We really picked it up, and kind of proved ourselves from last year.”
The Eagles shot out to an early 8-2 lead in the first game, but Charles Wright quickly charged back behind senior middle hitter Shelby Fisher. Fisher’s ace gave the Tarriers a late 18-17 lead, but Life Christian senior Johnnise Moore responded with two straight kills, and later closed out the game with an emphatic slam.
The Tarriers fought back to claim the second game, going up 7-4 early on Fisher’s ace before Life Christian fought back for a momentary 9-8 lead on an ace by Kaitlyn Konsmo. But senior middle hitter Vanessa Davis and sophomore outside hitter Kaylee Kim helped the Tarriers regain control along with Fisher, as they built the lead to 19-13 on their way to tying up the match.
Charles Wright hung tough throughout the third game, even with Moore, senior middle hitter Ashlee Hamilton and junior outside hitter Maddy Long each displaying dominant overhand smashes for the Eagles. The Tarriers tied it 17-17 on a sideout, but the Eagles rattled off seven straight points as senior Jordan Youngblood had two straight aces and Long – who led the Eagles with nine kills – finished it off to regain the advantage.
“They’re just much more disciplined this year, just with the way they’re meshing and playing together,” said Life Christian head coach Tracy King of her squad’s maturation. “It starts with my seniors, just with the unity they have.”
Normandeau set the tone for the Eagles in the fourth game, collecting three of her team-high six aces in the first four points for an early 4-0 lead. Life Christian continued the momentum from there, as Kylie Burton extended it to 16-6 with back-to-back kills, and Hamilton closed out the match with her sixth kill.
Just as important as the Eagles’ offensive dominance was their defense, as Konsmo led the way with 38 digs, while Long tallied 15 digs and Moore finished with eight kills and 14 digs.
Fisher led the Tarriers with 10 kills, six aces and two blocks.
The win improved the Eagles to 2-0 in league play in the young season, while Charles Wright dropped to 2-1 in the Nisqually 1A. But Life Christian knows the adventure is just beginning.
“It’s a great start to our season for sure,” said Normandeau. “We know we have to play hard no matter what throughout this whole season. It’s not going to be an easy win no matter what it is. We just have to prove ourselves on the court.”
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