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YAKIMA — Wahkiakum needed to focus on what’s next, and that’s exactly what the Mules did.

Wahkiakum beat Asotin 14-25, 24-26, 25-19, 25-17, 15-12 to stay alive in the Class 2B State Championships here at the Yakima Valley SunDome on Thursday.

After losing to Tri-Cities Prep in a five-setter earlier in the day, it wasn’t the easiest thing to do, but the team leaned on its core covenants and got pumped up.

Then it found itself staving off a sweep.

Wahkiakum won the final three sets, battling tooth and nail to keep the ball alive.

“It’s pretty impressive,” hitter Macie Elliott said. “Before the game we were getting pumped up in the locker room, playing games and singing. I think that really helps our energy. Then we were down two. But there was no doubt in my mind that we were going to come back.”

It’d be hard to blame anyone for counting the Mules out after the second set. But relentlessness and passion are two of the team’s core covenants, and Wahkiakum displayed both on the floor over the remaining three sets.

Perhaps most important was the ability to focus on what can be controlled.

“They did a really good job of moving onto the next point after we made mistakes, and when we were doing good things it didn’t matter,” coach Kayli Hurley said. “They did a really good job of moving forward and focusing on what comes next.”

Elliott tallied 19 kills and 19 digs, while Charlie Ashe added 13 digs, McKensi Flukiger finished with 21 digs, and setter MJ Neves had 32 assists.

Scrapping, picking up and talking through plays, and putting extra in to keep the ball in play went a long way, Hurley said. Still, it was a stressful moment.

“This is the fourth time in the postseason that they’ve gone five,” Hurley said. “Three out of four we’ve won going into that fifth set.”

The one loss came early Thursday morning against Tri-Cities Prep, as the Mules fell 21-25, 29-27, 25-17, 23-25, 15-9.

In the consolation bracket — working for seventh or eighth place — Wahkiakum finds itself starting Friday morning against a familiar opponent, Ocosta, who the Mules lost 3-1 to in districts.

A win in the morning guarantees some kind of hardware, even if the Mules don’t waltz onto the court with an ace in the hole.

“Coach says that volleyball coaches aren’t as stupid as basketball coaches. We don’t put our stats online,” Elliott said. “We’re going to play our game on our side of the net and the results will come.”

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Sports Reporter

Jason is a journeyman sports reporter who has covered the Golden State Warriors, Oakland A's, along with a heavy emphasis on the Oakland Raiders. He comes to Cowlitz County from Oakland, Calif. and is a loving father.

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