WALLA WALLA — A slow start was no match for the Walla Walla High School volleyball team Tuesday.
After dropping the opening set, 25-12, Wa-Hi rallied back to take the next three sets, 25-20, 25-23, 25-23, to beat Mid-Columbia Conference foe Hanford.
Blue Devils head coach Don Hepker credited his squad for its resiliency after the come-from-behind win.
“They’re willing to fight for each other,” Hepker said. “We might lose a point here, a point there, but our team has never given up. Our team just doesn’t give up.”
It also didn’t hurt that Wa-Hi got 20 and 15 kills out of juniors Reece Carman and Madi Doepker, respectively
The 6-foot-4 Carman added an impressive 24 digs, but it was her hitting that stood out to Hepker.
“I wouldn’t want to dig Reece’s hits,” Hepker said. “They come straight down. She has a line shot. She can go over the block and she can hit a hard angle. (She’s) just a complete front-row player.”
As for Doepker, she was seemingly all over the court for the Blue Devils, Hepker said. He called Doepker a “go-to player”, as she ended both the third and fourth set on kills.
After Hanford cut the Wa-Hi lead to 24-23 in the pivotal fourth set, Doepker rose up on the left side of the net to seal the Blue Devil victory.
“I feel comfortable every time she’s touching the ball, whether it’s back row or front row,” Hepker said. “She’s going to get the job done.”
Following the lackluster opening set, Hepker said he told his team to focus on the basics.
From there, Wa-Hi grabbed its first lead of the night in the second set, 17-15.
Senior Abby Anderson made a decisive diving play during the second set, as she ranged backwards to get one of her eight digs on the night.
Hepker had nothing but praise for his senior defensive specialist after the match.
“She’s playing her area,” Hepker said of Anderson. “She’s running around covering behind people 15 feet away. She was just all over the court.”
Carman added a handful of kills in the second set to lead the Blue Devils to the 25-20 win. Hepker said his team’s defense did an excellent job of funneling the Hanford hitters towards Wa-Hi’s passers.
Hepker highlighted junior Paige Parsons, who returned from a concussion Tuesday, for her effort at the net.
“We’re definitely outside-hitter dominated, but it takes a team to win,” he said. “Paige was able to close the blocks up. Even though we may not have gotten a lot of blocks, our blocks channel their hitters right to our passers.”
Parson’s blocks seemed to move straight towards Katie Green, who finished with a team-high 42 assists in the game.
Wa-Hi next plays at Pasco Thursday.