MILLVILLE — With region volleyball just around the corner, there was a bit of a preview on Saturday afternoon in the championship match of the Ridgeline Tournament.
The two-day event concluded with two Region 11 teams squaring off for the title. If the match was any indication of things to come in league play, it should be an exciting season.
Mountain Crest prevailed in straight sets over host Ridgeline, 25-21, 25-22, 25-22. All three sets could have gone either way.
“That was exciting,” MC head coach Kindra Anderson said. “I’m still shaking. It was very exciting. Both teams played really, really well. Ridgeline showed up and did a good job.”
“Our girls have had a great day,” RHS head coach Jaicee Roden said. “We saw some great things in that match. … We are gaining some experience, working through some things, fine-tuning some things and giving players some opportunities to prove themselves.”
The entire match was a back-and-forth affair. There were a total of eight lead changes during the three sets and 33 ties. While Mountain Crest (15-4) came out on top each time, the Riverhawks (6-6) were always right there.
“We have been focusing a lot on not letting other teams’ good things affect us,” Anderson said. “So instead of being down that they got a kill, we have a mindset of, OK, that was a good kill but we are going to respond to it and go get a good kill too.”
The Mustangs’ varsity experience won out in the end. Mountain Crest won all six matches during the event and ran its winning streak to 14 on the season.
“We were tired going into this match, but it helps with our endurance” Anderson said. “I am very happy with how they stayed emotionally stable and fought through and brought energy. … We are not talking about the winning streak.”
The two-day tournament was valuable for the young Riverhawks, who went 4-2 over the two days.
“It was great to get to the championship,” Roden said. “We wanted to defend our home turf. I was happy it was us and Mountain Crest, because it’s the valley. It was great to compete against them.”
In the opening set, neither team could seize much momentum. It was tied at 19-19 after a Brinlie Crosbie kill for Ridgeline. But then six of the next eight points went to Mountain Crest as the final score was the largest lead for either side.
Ella Douglass and Gracie Garlock teamed up for a block to begin the strong finish for the Mustangs. Two errors by the Riverhawks ended the set. The host school had 13 miscues in the first set.
The two rivals traded 4-1 runs to begin the second set. The Riverhawks enjoyed a 9-6 lead after a kill by Savannah Perrett. But it was soon tied again.
The set was knotted at 20-20 when, once again, the Mustangs slowly pulled away. Kiera Crosbie began the MC surge with a kill, her fourth of the game. Like the first set, two errors by the Riverhawks ended the set.
Ridgeline only briefly led once in the final set, but it was tied 13 times. The last deadlock was at 16-16.
Mountain Crest used a 4-0 spurt to take the lead for good. Garlock had back-to-back kills, while Douglass had a block and then a kill. The match ended on a hitting error by Ridgeline.
“Everybody did a good job,” Anderson said. “It was a complete team effort. I thought Ella did a really good job. She did a really good job of changing up her swing the whole match.”
The Mustangs were led by Douglass with 11 kills and three blocks. Kiera Crosbie added nine kills, while Garlock finished with eight kills and nine digs. Phoebe Starns led MC in the digs department with 12. Jaycee Osborne had 39 assists, eight digs and three aces. Tess Henrie had three blocks.
“She (Osborne) has a lot of experience and does a good job of moving the ball around,” Anderson said. “She gives every hitter opportunities. It’s nice to have options.”
A trio of Mustangs had four kills in Perret, Brinlie Crosbie and Mira Smullin. Ava Wilcox had four blocks, and Sydney Donavan had a pair of aces.
Region 11 action begins on Tuesday.
“Ready or not, it’s here,” Roden said. “I think we are progressing and we will see some good things from our squad. The hard part is it becomes more emotional. This weekend was nice for us.”
WEST SIDE WINS TOURNEY
After picking up two wins at a tri-match on Thursday at Snake River, the Pirates headed further north for a tournament at West Jefferson.
On Friday, West Side beat a trio of teams in pool play, including Butte, Teton and host West Jefferson. On Saturday, the Pirates (12-1) topped Butte, Salmon and then Ririe in the tournament championship.
“The girls played as a team and found success,” WS head coach MeLinda Royer said.