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Volleyball team prevails over Orcas Vikings in dramatic three-game sweep

Top photo: The Wolverines celebrate their first victory over the Orcas Vikings, Tuesday in Turnbull Gym. Second photo:Senior Zoe LaRiviere rises up for a kill as teammates Sierra Dawson, No. 7, and Kelsey Barnes, No. 12, prepare for a possible return. Bottom photo: Sophomore Kaylen Meeker steps up to return a Vikings serve as seniors Kelsey Barnes, No. 12, and Zoe LaRiviere, No. 9, look on.  - Scott Rasmussen
Top photo: The Wolverines celebrate their first victory over the Orcas Vikings, Tuesday in Turnbull Gym. Second photo:Senior Zoe LaRiviere rises up for a kill as teammates Sierra Dawson, No. 7, and Kelsey Barnes, No. 12, prepare for a possible return. Bottom photo: Sophomore Kaylen Meeker steps up to return a Vikings serve as seniors Kelsey Barnes, No. 12, and Zoe LaRiviere, No. 9, look on.
— image credit: Scott Rasmussen

"It's been a struggle for us so far, but we're going in the right direction," said senior Rachel Hay just one week ago after the Wolverines took three straight games from Shoreline Christian to tally their second win of the season.

Going in the right direction? Indeed.

The 2010 Friday Harbor volleyball team catapulted itself into unfamiliar territory with a stunning and dramatic — and some might say improbable — three-game sweep over Orcas Tuesday night in Turnbull Gym.

With a blockbuster performance against a quality Vikings squad that refused to fold, the Wolverines posted their third win in a row and carved an exclamation point into an awe-inspiring victory that the team's six seniors, playing in their final home game of the year, aren't likely to forget.

"This is the first time in my four years that we've beat Orcas," senior Kelsey Barnes said. "It just felt so good."

It didn't come easy, though.

Trailing 5-0 in the opening game, the Wolverines, with Hay at the service line, claimed the next eight points and then stayed one step ahead of the Vikings down the stretch to snare a 25-19 victory and an early advantage in the best-of-five match. Barnes drove home the wining point with a thundering kill at the net.

The Wolverines fell behind early in the following game as well. They trailed 15-10 at the midpoint and were down 23-18, with Orcas just two points away from evening the match. They snagged the next five points to erase the deficit and then, with the score knotted at 23 apiece, outlasted the Vikings in a pair of long and tension-filled rallies to seal a 26-24 win.

"They just continued to fight the whole entire game," Head Coach Travis Mager said of the Wolverines, who improved to 4-8 overall (they defeated Concrete Oct. 14). "I think that's the way we should have been playing the whole season. That's what they're capable of."

The Vikings, who have long-dominated the inter-island rivalry, weren't about to go down without a fight.

In fact, after Barnes opened the third game by serving 11 consecutive winners, the Vikings, led by senior Serena Sanders, whittled down the deficit point-by-point until the score was knotted at 15-all. Friday Harbor surged back in front and staked a 20-15 advantage. The Vikings rallied to tie the score at 22-22, and then pocketed the next point to take a 23-22 lead, their first of the game.

With the game on the line, the Wolverines delivered once again when they needed it most. With the score tied 24-24, senior Zoe LaRiviere found an opening on the Vikings' side of the court and deftly dropped in a winner to put Friday Harbor up by one. Barnes then iced the game and the match by driving home a kill from mid-court.

While Turnbull Gym erupted in celebration, LaRiviere noted that the only thing better than scoring a victory over their inter-island rivals was that the Wolverines had to compete so hard to get it.

"I think we showed by the way we battled back and beat a good team like Orcas that we're a really good team too," LaRiviere said. "I wouldn't have wanted to end it any other way."

Next: The Wolverines travel to Cedar Park Christian on Oct. 21. Their regular-season finale is Oct. 25 at La Conner.

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