RIDGEFIELD — The Camas volleyball team took a collective deep breath — the cool, clean air in the Ridgefield gym afforded that rare luxury on Tuesday — and then the Papermakers blew past the Spudders for a season-opening non-league win.
“I’m always telling the girls to take their ‘ha!’ ” Camas coach Michelle Allen said with her verbalization of a big breath. “I think in that first set, we had a little first-match jitters. It was our first day of school, the first match keeping score, playing in front of a crowd, and I think we were a little excited. But then we settled down and started playing for each other.”
The Papermakers rallied for a 20-25, 25-14, 25-14, 25-22 victory to open the season Tuesday.
“We were expecting them to be super scrappy,” senior Keelie LeBlanc said. “We knew Ridgefield had really good defense, and they showed that tonight, taking the first set. But we really talked about in our huddle was playing as a team, and that’s what we’re focusing on this year — trusting each other. So I think that once they beat us in that first set, we really talked about trusting each other and we worked that out for the next three.”
LeBlanc and sophomore Marianna Payne led the Papermakers with 11 kills each. Whitney Quist added 10 kills, Maddy Pfaff had 15 digs and Aubrey Stanton paced Camas with 25 assists.
Camas took control of the match late with its serving, allowing the Papermakers to make long scoring runs.
“I thought Camas served us out of the gym at times,” Ridgefield coach Sabrina Dobbs said. “But we knew Camas would be a tough, a 4A school. And we’re young. But I was proud by how we battled.”
Ridgefield lost several key players off its team that placed sixth at state last season. But the Spudders got some key contributions Tuesday from freshmen.
Delaney Nicoll led the Spudders with 10 kills and added 11 assist and Kohana Fukuchi led with 17 assists. Junior Kenadi McCaskill added 12 digs.
The Spudders showed fight late after falling behind 22-14 in the fourth set. Delaney Nicoll and junior Anika Nicoll both had kills as Ridgefield rallied within 23-22.
But then Camas used its experience to seal the victory.
“All of that is heart, at the end when a team starts to come back,” LeBlanc said. “It’s about who wants it the most and who is going to be the leader on the court. That’s when the five seniors (on the Camas team) are being leaders out there and talking as loud as we can to pump up the other girls around us. That was our goal at the end.”