WALLA WALLA — Three gunslingers met on the floor of the Wa-Hi gymnasium Thursday night, arms loaded and ready.
When the dust settled it was Eisenhower’s hitters who had more bullets in their guns, as the Cadets overpowered the Blue Devils on Senior Night in straight sets 25-15, 25-19, 25-21.
Eisenhower’s Kayla Randles and Tori Fisher entered the match averaging 3.6 and 3.4 kills per set, respectively, ranking them as the fourth and fifth best hitters in the Big Nine Conference. Wa-Hi’s Courtney Zaro came into the match a close sixth, averaging 3.3 kills per set.
Thursday night Randles added 15 more kills to her total and Fisher 10, including five in the final set that put away the Blue Devils for good.
Zaro finished the match with eight kills.
"Certainly not what we wanted to see on Senior Night," Wa-Hi coach Audra Cummings said. "The effort was good. Honestly, what hurt us was our serve-receive-passing. In both games one and two, we had five zero-passes—five shanks, essentially. Game three we cleaned it up a little bit. We (cut the shanks) down to three, and that’s what made it closer."
Set one was only close at the beginning. Wa-Hi’s only lead came at 1-0, but it didn’t last for long. Following a Wa-Hi error, Ike’s Fisher blasted six straight serves, including one ace into the heart of the Blue Devil defense, as Eishenhower built a quick 6-1 lead. Fisher would reel off two more aces in the set.
"She (Fisher) is the most consistent jump-server I’ve seen in the conference," Cummings said. "When you’re jump serving, you’re at a higher risk for errors. She hit a lot of serves tonight. I don’t know if she missed one."
According to the stats sheet, she didn’t.
Set two was more of the same. The Cadets shot to another 6-1 lead, with Ike libero Jazmen Hernandez contributing two more aces.
Eisenhower extended the lead to 17-11, before a Cummings timeout reenergized the home team.
Jamie Weisner led the Devil comeback with a kill at 17-12. Eisenhower followed with three errors, interspersed with a Randles kill, to bring the Blue Devils to within 18-15. After back-to-back sideouts, Weisner took to the line where she delivered three great serves that Zaro, and Sydney Christensen killed into Blue Devil points and a 19-18 score.
That was all the closer the Devils could come, as Eisenhower closed out the set on another 6-1 run.
In set three, Wa-Hi came out fired up, blazing to a 7-3 lead on the strength of four kills and no errors.
Ike came back with a Fisher kill and two straight aces by setter Carrie Johnston to net the lead at 10-9.
Wa-Hi would not fold, however, quickly regaining, then extending the lead to 20-17.
Ike then called timeout, after which Wa-Hi collapsed. The two teams traded kills to 21-18, then Wa-Hi committed three straight errors, including a flukish hitter-tripping-over-a-teammate miscue to knot the score at 21-21.
Kills by Shelby Fitterer and Randles upped Ike’s lead to 23-21. Another Wa-Hi error pushed the game to match point.
On match point, Weisner was stuffed at the net by Fisher and the sweep was completed.
"I don’t know what it is. Sometimes we have slow starts," Cummings said. "Like last week, we beat Pasco. We lost games one and two, then won the next three."
Though disappointed, Cummings did see some bright spots.
"I thought my setter Jill McDaniels had a great night," said Cummings. "She’s been really sick. We had to send her home from a tournament this past weekend, because she was so ill. She made good decisions overall, and got some kills on the push-overs."
McDaniels finished with 17 assists and five kills.
Weisner finished with seven kills, 10 digs, and three aces.
Wa-Hi sent off its three senior players with recognition and roses before the game. Alicia Baker, McDaniels, and Zaro were joined by their parents on the court before the final home match of the regular season.
With the loss Wa-Hi’s record drops to 7-5.