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Mt. Spokane volleyball drops into consolations

LACEY, Wash. – The Mt. Spokane volleyball team’s State 3A tournament was almost over before it got started Friday morning.

Down two sets, the Wildcats had no room for error. Somehow they rallied to knock off Lakeside of Seattle 19-25, 18-25, 25-21, 25-12 and 15-9 at Saint Martin’s University.

When starting setter Paiton Larson, a junior, jammed a finger, in the middle of the match, coach Dave Whitehead changed the offense to a 6-2 attack, featuring two setters. It worked as Larson still managed 33 assists and sophomore Karly Cantu had 11.

Montana State University–bound Kennadie Clute, an outside hitter, and senior middle blocker Brooke Reilly did much of the damage at the net. Clute had team highs in kills (27) and digs (23) and Reilly a season-best six blocks and 16 kills.

“This team, whatever I throw at them, they’re going to do,” Whitehead said. “We haven’t run a 6-2 since the (Crossover Classic in early October). They just go out and play. It’s the team that was able to do that because we put people in positions they haven’t played much.”

Mt. Spokane couldn’t keep the momentum going in its second match, though, falling to Holy Names 25-18, 20-25, 25-19 and 25-22.

The Wildcats (17-6) take on Auburn Mountainview this morning at 8 in a loser-out match. The best Mt. Spokane can finish is fifth.

Lakeside appeared poised to put Mt. Spokane away in the third set, leading 14-11. But the Wildcats fought back, pulling into a 19-19 tie.

That’s when Reilly and freshman Adrienne Dotson had key blocks as the Wildcats pushed ahead 21-19.

After a Lakeside timeout, Dotson had a kill and Reilly had another block. On set point, Clute made a critical save that she dug and lifted back deep into Lakeside’s backcourt, and the Lions weren’t able to retrieve the ball.

In the decisive set, Mt. Spokane started to separate after a 5-5 tie. Match point came on a nice backrow kill by Clute.

“I don’t think we were quite ready at the beginning,” Clute said. “We were moving slow and reacting late. After that second game everybody was fired up and a little bit (ticked) off. It was like, ‘We’re not losing.’ You’ve got to have every single person into the game in order for you to be successful and that’s what we did.”

Against Holy Names, Clute led with 18 kills and Reilly had 10 to go with four blocks.