(Steven Lane/The Columbian)
The Skyview volleyball team withstood an initial wave of attack, regrouped, then repeated.
Once again, the Storm sit atop the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League volleyball world, beating Union in three games Thursday night for their fifth consecutive league title. Scores were: 25-18, 25-18, 25-18.
“This is such a huge accomplishment,” said senior Taylor Barrus, who has been on varsity all four years. “We lost seven seniors last year. I knew it was going to be tough, but I also knew we could do it.”
Union snapped Skyview’s 47-match league winning streak in the first matchup between the teams this season. Skyview got the second match, setting up the third match to break the tie for first place, to claim a title. Skyview improved to 10-1 with one match to play. Union fell to 9-2.
Union’s student body packed its section, giving the match a rowdy atmosphere.
“It was just awesome,” Barrus said of the vibe. “When you have a crowd going against you like that, it makes you want to play better and show them.”
The Titans were pumped to play in front of that home crowd and took an early four-point lead in the first game. But Skyview ruled the rest of the match.
Trailing 15-13, the Storm would score the next six points, including five off the service of junior Kelsey Oliver. The Storm would finish that game on a 12-3 run.
“We started out losing, but we fought back hard,” said Barrus, who led the Storm with 14 kills. “When we stick together as a team, we’re amazing.”
The momentum remained with Skyview in Game 2, jumping out to a 14-6 lead for a 25-9 overall spurt. Oliver once again stayed on the service line for a long time in that second game.
“Just knowing you have to prove to your team that you can make it over the net and make sure we can get points,” Oliver said. “Support my team.”
The third game was tied 10-10 when Larissa Hamilton got a kill to give Skyview the lead for good. Barrus responded with kills for Skyview’s next three points. Union never got closer than two points the rest of the game. Barrus, fittingly, got the kill to end the match.
Katie Swanson had seven kills for the Storm. Hamilton and Brinley Hadfield each had six. Bailey Beaman and Oliver combined for 34 assists. Oliver also had three aces.
It was quite the difference from the first meeting of the season, with Union winning in three games.
“Our competitive drive just came out,” Oliver said after that loss to the Titans. “In practice, we gave it all we could, knowing we could come back and win this.”
Skyview first-year coach Carri Smith called it a wake-up call. She reminded her players who they were, who they represented.
“We are winners, and we are going to go all the way,” she recalled of the way she reacted after that loss.
“After we played them the first time ... it fueled our fire,” Barrus said. “All of us are so competitive.”
Skyview won the second match, but the Storm were not satisfied.
“That wasn’t enough for us,” Smith said. “We had to win tonight to make a statement.”
The message was received.
“They played awesome,” Union coach Josh Kreunen said.
His squad played better than the scores indicated, he said. It was just Skyview was clicking.
“Each game, then went on a five- or six-point run, and it killed us,” Kreunen said.
Megan LaFond led the Titans with 12 kills. Vanessa Muckerheide and Rhiannon Morfin each had seven kills. Sammy Savage and Brandi Victor combined for 26 assists.