The surging Bear Creek Grizzlies clawed out a thrilling win against King’s West in a Sea-Tac 2B League volleyball showdown last Thursday night at The Bear Creek School.
The Grizzlies, playing without senior all-league player Katie Wolfram, who was on a college recruiting trip, won the match, 3-2, in the best-of-five format. Game scores were 25-11, 15-25, 25-18, 19-25, 15-11.
With the win, Bear Creek sits atop the Sea-Tac 2B North Division standings at 7-1 and 9-1 overall. The Grizzlies, riding a five-game winning streak, played winless Summit (0-10) on Tuesday — after the Reporter’s deadline. King’s West fell to 5-3 in the league, 6-3 overall and holds the second spot in the South Division.
The match started out promising for the home team, as the Warriors had trouble communicating early on, which caused a lot of unforced errors and led to a 25-11 rout by the Grizzlies in the first game. Bear Creek held a 17-3 lead at one point in the first game as the home crowd sensed a three-game sweep, but King’s West had other plans.
Led by the stellar serving of Hannah Fontenot, the Warriors fought back and jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the second game. Bear Creek closed the gap to make the score 9-8, but ended up losing the second game, 25-15.
After two lopsided victories, both teams sensed they were in for a battle, and the third game was one for the ages.
Led by outside hitter Jasmine Miller, who had five kills during game three, the Grizzlies cruised to a 7-2 lead, then gave up five straight points as the Warriors tied the game at 7.
As the game progressed, the two squads were locked in, trading points with well-placed spikes and solid rallies.
The score was tied at 9, then at 12, and finally at 15, when the momentum turned the Grizzlies’ way. A key service ace by Miller made it 21-17, and the Grizzlies went on to win 25-18.
King’s West came from behind to take the fourth game 25-19, which set up the exciting race-to-15 tiebreaker game.
Three unforced errors put Bear Creek in a 4-0 hole and cast a somber mood upon the home crowd and bench, but in true Grizzly form, the team clawed their way back into contention. A controversial call that was reversed by the line judge tied the score at 6-6. Then came the turning point: With the score knotted at 9 and middle hitter Madison Stump at service.
One of the best servers on the Bear Creek squad, she didn’t catch all of it, and the ball just barely clipped the top of the net, dropping in front of diving Warrior defenders for a timely — and fortunate — service ace.
“It was really intense, just trying to keep up the energy a lot so we could stay on our game and play well,” said Stump, who had a team-leading eight aces and 13 kills during the match.
The Grizzlies used that momentum to rally down the home stretch, and a perfect set by sophomore Erica Leuenberger helped senior outside hitter Alexis Miller put the match away with an authoritative kill.
“I had to get it in,” said Alexis of her game-winning spike. “My thought was just to keep it in so we could quit playing.”
Bear Creek volleyball coach Sherrie Brown was pleased to see her players battle through a tough match, especially after needing to shuffle the lineup due to player absences.
“They came together, but they’re all-around players, which is the best thing, because they can play anywhere,” Brown said. “Just put them out there and they’re really working hard.”
Leuenberger had 29 assists, Alexis Miller shined with five aces and five kills, and the talented duo of Jasmine Miller and Stump were more than a force to be reckoned with at the net during the match, as they combined for 25 kills.
“Madison had probably her best game tonight,” Brown said. “She was just on in the middle, coming up full-swing. Did they step up because Katie wasn’t here? Yeah, but they would have played that way with Katie too.”
Now sitting atop the league standings after pulling out a victory against one of their toughest opponents, Bear Creek got a huge confidence boost for the rest of the season.
“They have lots of confidence in their ability to play,” Brown said. “We have talked about crediting and preparation. They’ve worked hard in everything they’ve done.”