WALLA WALLA - A slow start in game one resulting in a 25-15 loss, and a heartbreaking 25-23 loss in game two, dug an early hole for the Wa-Hi volleyball team Tuesday night at against Chiawana at the Blue Devil gym.
"Games one and two, we just started way too slow and had too many errors," Wa-Hi coach Audra Cummings said. "We were not playing disciplined and had too many balls drop with communication errors.
"That is something that I haven't seen a lot from our team. It was probably the jitters of playing the first home game of the season."
After the quick start by the Riverhawks, the Blue Devils rallied to take games three and four, 25-14 and 25-16.
That set the stage for game five, the first to 15 points, and the Blue Devils faltered to lose the game, 15-8, and the match, 3-2.
"After game four, we were hoping that we would have enough momentum to push on and really get after them and win game five," Cummings said. "Our goal in game five was to be the first to five, 10 and 15 points. We were the first to five, but definitely not to 10. They got on a run and we had a string of errors when our passing broke down."
A 12-9 Chiawana lead in game one, forced Cummings to call timeout. From there, 6-foot, 1-inch Riverhawk senior Mercades Sparks took over.
Sparks recorded five of the final 13 points for Chiawana on three kills, one service ace and one block.
Game two was a see-saw affair with 11 ties and a couple of Blue Devil scoring runs after timeouts.
"I told them at the timeouts that we needed to clean up our game," Cummings said. "We needed to get in a groove and keep the ball in play. We were the one making the errors and that we needed to be more disciplined. "
A 10-6 Riverhawk advantage was nearly erased following a timeout in game two as Wa-Hi went on a 4-1 streak.
Following the timeout, Torri Crawford slammed home a kill to cut the the lead to three. Sparks knocked a ball into the net for a Wa-Hi point, and Madison Doepker made a block to cut the lead to one.
Running into the net was called on Wa-Hi next, pushing the lead to two, and then Devyn Humphreys made a kill at the net to put the lead back to just one for Chiawana.
The teams battled on in game two with ties at 14, 15, 16 and 17. Then, with Chiawana up 19-17, the Blue Devils called for another timeout.
A 3-0 Blue Devil ensued to give them the lead at 20-19, but Chiawana closed on a 6-3 run to finish off Wa-Hi and take the 2-0 lead.
The Blue Devils had five service aces and two players came off the bench to key the 25-14 win. Chantelle Zamora came off the pine to have three kills in game three, and Lexie Mahan had two kills and one service ace in that game three.
"I was pleased with both of them (Zamora and Mahan) coming off the bench to play well," Cummings said. "On the bench, the two girls could watch and see what we were saying about defensive positioning and discipline. Then they came into execute."
In the match, Zamora finished with six kills and 13 digs. Mahan had nine kills and 15 digs.
The setters for Wa-Hi also played well. Franny Eacker-Rude had 19 assists and Brogan Watson 17.
The top hitter for Wa-Hi was Torri Crawford with 11 kills.
Tianna Cummings had 27 digs.
Game four was all Blue Devils early. A 7-1 lead was orchestrated by Zamora, Mahan and Humphreys, who had all of the initial scoring.
Chiawana fought back to make it 18-10 and 22-15, but could get no closer.
Two service aces by Megan Thompson made it 22-15, and the final 25th point was on a kill by Crawford.
A decisive game five had the Blue Devils up 5-3 and then down 10-7. That was before a 5-1 Riverhawk rally finished off the Blue Devils.
Wa-Hi next hosts Richland at 7 p.m. Tuesday.