WALLA WALLA — The Walla Walla Community College volleyball team posted its best kill total of the season as it picked up a four-set win against Wenatchee Valley Wednesday in NWAACC East Division play.
The Knights nabbed a first-set win, 25-22, before Walla Walla (25-12 overall, 9-3 in the NWAACC East) rebounded to win the following three sets, 25-11, 25-19, 25-20.
Although the kill totals were gaudy, it was the Warriors’ hitting errors that stuck out to head coach Tim Toon.
“We just didn’t play great today,” Toon said. “(We were) way too error-prone. Hitting errors absolutely killed us. We had some people who posted really high kill totals, unfortunately that’s balanced and negated because of way-too-many hitting errors. That’s something we need to tighten down.”
Pitted against the last place team in the NWAACC East, the Warriors came out relatively flat to open the match. Although WWCC held a 22-20 lead in the first set, Wenatchee Valley rolled off five unanswered points to seal the first-set victory, 25-22.
But the Warriors responded immediately in the second set, as Walla Walla jumped out to a 14-3 lead before winning the set with ease, 25-11.
Walla Walla High grad Chantelle Zamora was a big reason for the turnaround, as she piled up kills during the second frame.
Zamora finished the match with 14 kills and 28 digs for the Warriors.
“Chantelle is probably our most valuable player all season,” Toon said. “She really has been strong in the back row and strong at the net. She plays more like a sophomore, even though she’s a freshman.”
But the hitting errors reappeared in the third set, as Walla Walla had trouble keeping its kill attempts in play. Regardless, the Warriors tied the set at 17, before rolling off the next six points.
JaLisa Jose and Denise Comfort ended the set with back-to-back kills for a 25-19 Warrior win.
Toon said Walla Walla’s defensive adjustments stifled the Knights’ attack as the match went on.
“We started reading them a little bit better,” Toon said. “We started keying in on predictable patterns, so we started being able to shut them down a little bit more than we did early on.”
Jose finished the match with 19 kills, 11 digs and four blocks.
Comfort added eight kills and 14 digs.
Toon said Comfort’s steady play has earned her more responsibility with the playoffs looming.
The Warriors closed out the match in the fourth set, but the Warriors’ mistakes allowed Wenatchee Valley to take an early lead.
After the Knights rolled off nine unanswered points, Walla Walla responded with a six-point swing of its own, prompted by kills by Kiendra Chester and Jose. With a comfortable 22-16 lead, the Warriors cruised to a 25-20 finish.
Although Walla Walla won the match, Toon said the team failed to play at the elite level they are capable of.
“It all comes back to lack of aggressiveness,” Toon said. “(It’s) lack of preparation and not good enough spike approaches. We need to be aggressive and want to kill the ball all the time and do the preparation work. A successful kill happens way before they jump up and spike the ball — it’s attitude, it’s being in the right position to start and then getting a good spike approach and being aggressive and swinging.”
The Warriors are currently third in the NWAACC East, trailing only No. 1 Blue Mountain and No. 2 Spokane. Walla Walla faces both teams in its next two matches, beginning with a road match at Blue Mountain Friday before hosting Spokane Wednesday.
With the playoffs slated to begin Nov. 21 at Mount Hood in Gresham, Ore., Toon said the next two matches will provide Walla Walla a chance to prepare for playoff-style competition.
“We have to make them bulletproof,” Toon said. “We have to hold them accountable in practice — mistakes kill you. We have to get them so that they play well 100 percent of the time. That’s a delicate balance when they don’t always want to do that.”