Kelso coach Michelle Mury remembers exactly what happened the last time her team faced Camas, even if that matchup was well over a year ago. In her team’s season-opening volleyball tilt at home on Monday against the Papermakers, Mury was happy that the results were at least a little bit different, even if it was a matter of degree in a 25-18, 22-25, 25-19, 25-22 loss in 3A/4A Greater St. Helens league play.
“The goal basically, that’s the only team that beat us 3-0 last year, so it was to do better than last year,” Mury said. “We took a game off them so I’m super happy about that.”
Kelso jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in front of a thin crowd of both home and away fans, but the Papermakers quickly found their mark and began to exploit some soft spots in Kelso serve receive setup.
“We had some new girls stepping in on varsity and there’s a little bit of a difference in tempo,” Mury noted.
But watching their early momentum evaporate and dropping the first set, Kelso stated to find the energy that they will need to sustain their spark this season. Jumping out to another early set lead the Hilanders bench came alive with every point as the cheerleaders on the sideline and hometown fans followed suit. High fives and fist bumps quickly turned into orchestrated toe taps and dance moves not seen in public since Winter Ball 2019.
“When they’re having fun they play better. They know it,” Mury said. “Bella (Hadaller) stepped up with her leadership and her confidence instinctually and that’s what I’m looking for.”
Haddaller led Kelso with 16 kills and four stuff blocks on the night and Erin Tack added ten kills. Meanwhile, Ashley Noah lined up 41 assists for her teammates.
But for all the good vibes in their huddles the Hilanders had their hands full on the court.
“If I had to predict the best team in the league so far, it would be this team,” Mury said. “That’s an established program that places in State every year so for us to compete with them, we were in every single game, and that’s what I’m proud of.”
Indeed, the Kelso faithful believed that a comeback was in store right up until the final point came crashing down for Camas.
Annalee Johnson had a near perfect night serving for Kelso and left plenty of skin on the floor in order to scoop 30 digs. Rielee Gourde was even better defending the squash ball with 32 digs. Ruby Sereday turned in a perfect effort from the service line and Natalie Fraley racked up 14 service points for the Hilanders.
Still, all of that proved to be just enough to hang tight, but not enough to topple the Papermakers’ mighty machine.