Forget the stats, the score or the records when it comes to Civil War volleyball. The game has a unique way of placing the emphasis on “civil.”
The coaches can “talk shop all day,” as RAL’s Whitney Luchau put it, have coached many of the girls on both sides through youth volleyball and have seen middle-school teammates develop into high-school adversaries.
For two nights a year, the two sides do battle. On Tuesday, it was Mark Morris emerging as victor, winning 25-22, 25-12, 25-17 at Ted M. Natt Court.
Grace Huhta paced the team with nine kills, as Clarissa Escudaro and Andee Whitman closely followed with eight apiece. Kendelle King finished with 31 assists, BrookLynn Smith had 15 digs and Amber Lee added 13 digs.
“It’s cool. We all went to similar middle schools together, and now we’re playing against each other,” Huhta said. “There’s a good rivalry. It’s fun.”
Once again, first-year coach Talia Hamer lauded her team’s desire to win. Despite an uncharacteristically poor night of serving, the Monarchs showed their grit when the Jills tied the first set at 22-22 and the third at 16-16 before MM pulled away.
Plus it’s always nice to add to the number in the win column before the second half of league season kicks off Tuesday. The Monarchs are 2-4 through the first half and sit in fifth place (the top five teams make the postseason).
“These kids want to win; they don’t want to lose,” Hamer said. “The first half of league we had some struggles we weren’t prepared for. Coming into the second half, they have a little more belief in themselves. … Now that we’ve seen everybody, they have this hunger and intensity; they’re going to beat these teams now.”
For R.A. Long, Mckenzie Hamer had eight digs, Arianna Maryott had seven digs, Miranda Bergquist finished with 12 assists and Courtney Conary had five blocks and three kills.
The Jills (0-8, 0-6 league) are taking pride in celebrating the little things, and showing enthusiasm for each other.
“This is why I love the sport: Volleyball is momentum, pure momentum,” Luchau said. “You can’t not celebrate everything in volleyball. That’s why I coach.”
There was plenty of reason to celebrate Conary on Tuesday, as she picked up her defense as a middle blocker in the second and third sets, finding a way to stuff Huhta on several attempts.
“We’ve been working on just blocking ball,” Luchau said. “Most teams will pick a side, but I’ve just told her ‘Block ball. Pick an arm, and block ball.’ She does a great job with doing that.”
Mark Morris opens the second half on the road at Hockinson on Tuesday; the Jills are at Washougal Thursday.