WALLA WALLA - Walla Walla Community College's volleyball team controlled most of the first two sets against the NWAAC's top-ranked team, Blue Mountain Community College, which is unbeaten in conference play.
But the Warriors failed to capitalize on their opportunities, falling in straight sets, 26-24, 25-23, 25-17.
Walla Walla came out strong, grabbing an 11-5 lead on a spike from Corrine Holbrook. The Warriors (17-17, 3-8) maintained the lead throughout the rest of the frame, grabbing a 23-17 spread on a Danielle Meehan kill and a 24-20 edge with the chance to serve for the game before BMCC (35-4, 10-0) closed the frame with six straight points to take the 1-0 lead.
"It's the story of our season," said Wa-Hi head coach Tim Toon. "We check out for about 10 points each game, and there's no way to beat a team that good when you are giving away that much. Mentally we just can't seem to get there."
The frustrations continued in the second game for WWCC as the Warriors again controlled the set early and stood tied at 21 before the Timberwolves got off the deck to score a two-point victory on a 4-2 run. A Rebecca Haight kill culminated the victory for BMCC.
"I tell you, that team (WWCC) competed out here tonight," said Blue Mountain head coach Dave Baty. "My heart melts for Tim (Toon) on this one because I have been in the position he is in tonight many times. It's tough to handle, and I can guarantee you that we played a playoff team tonight, and that they would make noise at the NWAACC tournament."
The Wolverines overcame 17 errors in the first game and 18 in the second to score the wins, leaning heavily on their size. BMCC has four players on its roster that are six feet or taller, including 6-foot-5 middle blocker Becky Kershener.
"We know we have a lot of size, but that's not what we want to rely on," Baty said. "If you watch how we warm up, the last ten minutes are all about ball-handling, and we did not do a good job of that tonight."
Blue Mountain was out for blood in the final set, jumping out to an 11-2 lead, capped by a Kershner ace. The Warriors clawed back to make it a 24-17 game before the Timberwolves closed the match out with a stuff for the sweep.
"It's just frustrating because we can't seem to get six girls playing out there at the same time," Toon said. "It's not like it's the same two that are zoning out. They seem to rotate, and that leads to breakdowns and losses like the one we got tonight."
Haight led BMCC with 16 kills, while Robynn Schirmer notched all 34 of the team's assists. K.C. Schmit paced the ‘Wolves with 13 kills, and Mary Allen added a dozen more. Five blocks from Sydney Bloom, including the game clincher, were the high total for the victors.
Walla Walla got 10 kills from Nikki Long and nine more Libby Kern. Kayla Hanus posted a Warrior-high 30 assists, and Laekynn Culpepper finished with 11 digs. Brittany Dominguez led the Warriors with two aces.
"I guess we're just going to have to chalk this up as a building year," Toon said. "We preach one thing first and foremost, ‘All I want is for things done right.' That just isn't happening."