KELSO — The Kelso volleyball team found itself without its top weapon Tuesday, but the Hilanders didn’t miss a beat, sweeping Evergreen 25-14, 25-10, 25-12.
“The team stepped it up,” Kelso coach Michelle Mury said. “Everyone was able to get in the game and be a part of the success.”
In the middle of a busy weekend at the Capitol City Invite, star outside hitter Bella Hadaller came down on an opponents’ leg, spraining her ankle and ultimately keeping her out of the rest of the tournament. While Mury said Hadaller’s ankle was much better, she made the call to hold her out for precautionary reasons Tuesday and give her extra time to heal up.
So Mury found herself doing what she’s done multiple times this season: shuffle her lineup around to find something new that works.
To start the list of changes, Presley Nippert moved from the right pin to the left, filling in at Hadaller’s normal spot. All the junior did in her first match as Kelso’s top option was put up a team-high 18 kills, hitting at a .394 clip over the course of the night.
“That was a great confidence-builder for her,” Mury said.
That change set off a chain reaction for the Hilander lineup. Just as she had to start the season, Rielee Gourde traded in her libero’s jersey for a normal-colored one, and racked up seven kills on the pin. Annalee Johnson slotted back into the libero spot with 12 digs, and added three aces at the line. Ruby Sereday, Faith Fowler, and Abbi Doyle all came in to help the back row out, leading an effort that held Evergreen to just 36 points all night long.
The only two consistent pieces for Kelso on the evening were in the middle. Natalie Fraley stayed at middle blocker and logged seven kills, along with seven blocks.
“Nat’s rocking in the middle,” Mury said. “I think that was her most successful game in the block.”
And in the middle of the offense, Emily Thompson dished out 33 assists and added three dump kills, despite not having her normal go-to option to pass out of trouble to.
“I’m super proud of her,” Mury said. “She had a successful night tonight. We’ve been working on having a quicker offense, and she was able to do that with the middles and the right side.”
Kelso (7-3) is set to host Mountain View on Thursday. Mury said she was hopeful Hadaller would be back, at least in a limited role.