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News / Sports / Prep Sports

Mountain View volleyball shows ‘will to win’ in season-opening triumph over Evergreen

Thunder turn back multiple runs by the Plainsmen for 3-1 win

By Will Denner, Columbian staff writer
Published: September 5, 2023, 11:20pm
8 Photos
Mountain View players and coaches look on as Thunder senior Makena Gamby (8) winds up to hit the ball across the net against Evergreen on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2023, at Mountain View High School.
Mountain View players and coaches look on as Thunder senior Makena Gamby (8) winds up to hit the ball across the net against Evergreen on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2023, at Mountain View High School. (Will Denner/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

The Mountain View volleyball team has a motto helping guide them to begin a new season — will over skill.

Allow Thunder senior Makena Gamby to explain.

“(We) have the will to win, rather than some other top teams having all that skill,” Gamby said. “But we want it more than others.”

Desire prevailed in match one Tuesday, a 3-1 win (25-14, 15-25, 25-17, 25-15) over 3A Greater St. Helens League foe Evergreen, especially during the moments Mountain View faced deficits.

When they went down on the scoreboard, the Thunder insisted they were never down mentally. Not after Evergreen opened up an 8-1 lead in the opening set. Instead, Mountain View won nine of the next 10 points to take a 10-9 lead on a Gamby kill. The Thunder cruised to a first set win.

Then, Evergreen roared back to take the second set 25-15, finished off on an 8-0 run with senior libero Eliyah Bennett serving three aces.

But instead of the set signaling a momentum shift toward Evergreen, Mountain View proved it was only a momentary slip up. The Thunder led start to finish in the third set, then took charge early in the fourth to maintain its lead to the match-clinching point.

“What it comes down to is, they play for each other. They all have heart,” Mountain View coach Jacalyn Holmes said. “We talked this week about our goals for the season and each one of them said, bond with each other, to rely on each other and count on each other to do better on the court and off the court. It definitely came through tonight.”

The win was reassurance for a team that had only five players with varsity experience entering this season. The Thunder sensed a strong chemistry taking shape when tryouts got underway in August. Until they stepped on the court for the first match of the season Tuesday, they didn’t know for certain how it would all translate.

“We lost a lot of people from last year, so I wasn’t sure exactly how the team was going to look,” Gamby admitted, “but after today, I think we’ll be pretty good this season. We have a lot of energy, a lot of competitiveness and I think we can make it pretty far.”

Will over skill may be Mountain View’s motto, yet the Thunder have no shortage of the latter, either.

The group is highlighted by Gamby, a four-year varsity player whose versatility was on display with 9 kills, 7 digs, 10 assists and 6 aces Tuesday. Equally adept at dishing out to teammates as a setter, or going in attack mode as a hitter, Gamby is the key cog in the Thunder’s offense.

Senior libero Alexandra Ursache, another returning all-league player, is taking further control of the Thunder’s defense. She posted a team-high 26 digs with two aces Tuesday.

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“We always joke that Makena wakes up and says ‘volleyball’ because she’s just so into the game,” Holmes said. “And Alex, she loves her position so much that she’s so determined to nail every pass. We’re very lucky to have them.”

Mountain View also had balanced offensive contributions from the likes of sophomore Lydia Rutherford (8 kills), junior Annika Reive (7 kills) and freshman Kaydin Lawrence (6 kills).

Senior Gwen Pasternacki contributed 18 digs, 4 aces and 2 kills. Junior Araia Lim dished out a team-high 17 assists.

“It was just so much fun to just put it all out there and come home with a really big win,” Gamby said. “I’m glad that I could be here with my team and just ball out with everyone.”


25-14, 15-25, 25-17, 25-15

Mountain View

Highlights — Makena Gamby 9 kills, 7 assists, 10 digs, 6 aces; Alexandra Ursache 26 digs, 2 assists, 2 aces; Annika Reive 7 kills, 1 block; Araia Lim 17 assists, 1 kill, 2 digs; Gwen Pasternacki 18 digs, 4 aces, 2 kills; Kaydin Lawrence 6 kills, 1 dig; Lydia Rutherford 8 kills, 3 digs, 1 assist; Maissa Archuleta 1 kill.


Highlights — Alexis Echols 10 kills, 6 blocks; Erin Bennett 13 kills, 3 blocks; Adrienne Waters 31 assists.