This is as tough as league openers get.
Woodland knew that going in to Tuesday’s Greater St. Helens 2A opener. For the better part of the past decade, it’s been Ridgefield and Woodland battling for the highest of stakes.
There’s a good chance Tuesday’s game helps decide a 2018 league champion. So the Beavers are rightfully frustrated by their play in a 25-17, 25-23, 25-16 home defeat.
But had equal reason to be in bright spirits about how little was at stake Tuesday. It’s only the first game of the league season, after all.
“We knew this was going to be our battle this season,” Woodland coach Danielle Hutton said. “To start this way, we knew it was going to be a good game. We came into it with that mindset.”
A teaching moment no doubt for second-year coach Hutton, whose squad won its first league crown since 2005 last year. The Beavers (2-1, 0-1 league)) came into Tuesday night with a gameplan to stop a powerful Spudders squad with four 6-footers. They just didn’t execute, Hutton said.
Hutton knows the squads will meet again down the road. At least once more in league play, and if history is any indication, likely a time or two more in the postseason. So forgive her if she wasn’t willing to answer what exactly the plan was to stop a Ridgefield (3-0, 1-0) squad that looked dominant for most of the night.
“I can’t tell you that,” Hutton laughed. “I can’t have them finding out.”
It likely included Taylor Foster, though, who took over the game in spurts, including scoring four straight points to tie the second set at 23-23 before Ridgefield snatched it back. Foster finished with 13 kills and four blocks.
She was helped by Emma Swett, who had nine kills, 13 assists and three aces. Nicole Guthrie chipped in 13 assists and Elyse Booker tallied 14 digs.
But after Ridgefield won eight of the final nine points of the first set to take it 25-17, the Beavers’ bright spots were few and far between, as Ridgefield held on to the second set and ran to a 10-4 lead in the third before coasting to a close.
“We knew what we needed to do,” Hutton said. “We just didn’t do it. … They can’t dwell on it; we’re going to learn from it.”
Woodland continues its league season Thursday at home against R.A. Long, before a trip to Yakima for the SunDome Tournament on Saturday.