By Mike Maltais
A poised and aggressive group of Liberty Bell High School varsity girls frayed, defused and powered down the visiting Waterville Shockers in three straight volleyball games on Sept. 24 to warm up for their rematch against Pateros last Saturday (Sept. 28).
From the opening service the Lady Lions made it clear that a Waterville victory in their house would come at a steep energy demand, but the Shockers came up short in game one, 25-17, in game two, 25-22, and in game three, 27-25.
Barely into game one sophomore middle hitter Sarina Williams slammed a Waterville volley into the hardwood with a conviction that said more of the same was coming. As the game entered its final stages Williams delivered three more decisive kills at 18-15, 20-16, and 23-16.
Team captain Taylor Curtiss always seemed to be at key points during rallies and showed a special talent for hammered cross-court slams from both sides of the net.
Mid-way into game one, with the score knotted 14 all, Waterville’s talented senior libero, Kathleen Schmitz, sustained a serious ankle injury sufficient to warrant evacuation by Aero Methow Rescue Service personnel.
Game two began with libero Baylee Canedo diving under a Waterville slam to set up a return volley and point. Curtiss added another highlight reel dig when the Lady Lions were down by three points and fought back to a 17-17 tie with the help of two Curtiss kills.
Six-foot junior Whitney Fox was an intimidating offensive and defensive force at the net and unsettled Waterville’s hitters with her blocking presence.
Senior outside hitters Katherine Tannehill and Torie Weber and setter Dana Anderson were instrumental in a number of key plays that resulted in Liberty Bell points.
Canedo, positioned in the middle of the backcourt, was in the eye of the storm for many Shocker serves and responded with dig after dig that positioned the ball for the setters and middle hitters to counterstrike.
Toward the end of game two Williams added two more strikes, the final of which gave Liberty Bell the 25-22 win.
Several times during the three-game match the crowd was entertained by extended rallies that demonstrated how closely matched both teams were.
Ashley Watson was the first to step to the service line for the Lady Lions in game three. Launching from several feet behind the foul line, Watson delivered a series of line drive bullets that barely cleared the net and gave the Waterville backcourt fits as Liberty Bell built a 7-0 lead.
Just when it looked like the Lady Lions were turning the final game into a 23-17 rout, Waterville rallied and closed the gap to a near tie before the Lady Lions recovered enough to win by two.
The win showed that Liberty Bell had elevated its game since the Bridgeport tournament and was ready for a rematch with the winning Pateros Nannies. In spite of the improvement, Pateros prevailed, 3-0.
Liberty Bell was scheduled to host Oroville Tuesday (Oct. 1). The Lady Lions will be on the road Thursday (Oct. 3) at Bridgeport and at Manson Tuesday (Oct. 8).