Warriors win opening match at NWAACC tournament

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GRESHAM, Ore. — Daybreak volleyball didn’t seem to have an adverse effect on Walla Walla Community College’s play here Thursday during the opening match of the NWAACC Championships at Mount Hood CC.

Warriors coach Tim Toon hopes the trend continues today.

The Warriors, seeded second out of the NWAACC’s Eastern Region, popped the cork on this year’s season-ending tournament with a hard-fought 25-20, 18-25, 25-21, 25-16 victory over Linn-Benton, the No. 3 seed from the South. The match commenced at 9 a.m.

The Walla Wallans were the first ones back on the floor this morning at 10 vs. Tacoma to open quarterfinal play. The fourth-seeded Titans from the West ambushed Olympic, the Southern Region’s top seed, 25-20, 25-20, 20-25, 25-21 on Thursday.

“We continue to have a favorable draw in the tournament,” Toon said, referring Tacoma’s upset victory over the Rangers, who entered tournament play with a 32-10 record. “I’m sure Tacoma will be upset minded again when playing us.

“I hope we come out of the chute fast and establish early that we are the better team. I expect a battle.”

Despite what appears to be a relatively easy victory over the Roadrunners, the Warriors had their hands full against Linn-Benton, Toon suggested.

“Linn-Benton played incredible defense and made us do something special to get kills,” the Warriors coach said. “We fought hard through the ups and downs and came away with a very important win.”

Reese Amy led the Warriors at the net against Highline with 17 kills, and she added a pair of blocks to her stat line. Desiree Nielson followed with 15 kills.

“Reese played with a ton of heart and skill,” Toon said of Amy. “She carried us early in the match with her offense.

“And Desiree was steady in all four games,” he added of Nielson. “We will increase her role as the tournament moves on.”

JaLisa Jose had an all-around match with 12 kills, seven digs and one service ace. And Taylor Lancaster contributed eight kills and eight digs.

“We expect kills from JaLisa,” Toon said of Jose. “But the digs and serving, that was a huge bonus.

“And Taylor did most of her damage in the last two games when we really needed someone to step up and help us win,” he said of Lancaster’s contribution.

Setter Courtney Cosdon accrued 51 assists in the match and also had a service ace.

“Courtney ran a high-quality offense and used her jump serve to break up Linn-Benton’s attacking,” Toon said of Cosdon.

Jess Smith and Renee Baumann were the team’s digs leaders with 23 and 22, respectively. Delaney Fisher contributed a team-high three service aces to go with 10 digs. And Sydney Porter chipped in four digs.

Thursday’s victory improved Walla Walla’s season record to 32-9.

“Those two flew around the court keeping balls in play,” Toon said of the play of Smith and Baumann. He credited Fisher with “quality contributions” and Porter for “excellent serve receive.”

In Thursday’s other first-round matches, Spokane defeated Umpqua 25-18, 14-25, 25-18, 25-16; Highline downed Everett 25-23, 25-23, 25-21; Bellevue outlasted Pierce 25-16, 15-25, 20-25, 25-16, 16-14; host Mount Hood swept Wenatchee Valley 25-17, 25-16, 25-17; Blue Mountain topped Chemeketa 25-11, 25-10, 25-18; and Green River turned back Shoreline 25-19, 25-21, 25-16.

In Thursday’s four loser-out affairs, Umpqua topped Everett 25-16, 25-15; Olympic defeated Linn-Benton 25-18, 25-22; Chemeketa sent Shoreline packing 25-21, 25-23; and Wenatchee stayed alive with a 27-25, 25-19 victory over Pierce.

In today’s other quarterfinal matches, Spokane faced Highline at 10 a.m. and Mount Hood met Bellevue and Green River faced Blue Mountain in 12:30 p.m. matches. The tournament continued later today and throughout the weekend.

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