Volleyball fans are witnessing a changing of the guard in the 2A Greater St. Helens League. Ridgefield defeated defending champion Woodland for the second time Thursday.
“We’re not focusing on winning the titles, whether it be league, districts or state,” said junior specialist Delany Nicoll. “We’re more focused on how we can improve every game. If we can take care of all the little things, big things are going to happen for us when the time comes.”
The Spudders pelted the Beavers 25-15, 25-23, 20-25 and 27-25 at Ridgefield High School. Nicoll collected 13 kills, 13 digs and 20 assists. Kamryn Reynolds earned 11 kills and 4 blocks. Kohana Fukuchi notched 19 assists, Emilea Stephaniuk had 8 digs and Bailey Norris delivered 4 ace serves.
Ridgefield rolled in the first set and rallied from four points down to secure the victory in the second set. Elyse Booker made a diving dig to keep a volley alive for Woodland. The ball sailed over the net, but Nicoll was right there to drop the hammer on the Beavers. The Spudders took the lead in that game and never looked back.
Woodland rallied from six points down in the third set, took the lead late in the game and didn’t let it go. Booker had some more big digs, Taylor Foster and Emma Swett provided the blocks and kills, and Payten Foster added two ace serves.
The Beavers came out strong in the fourth set, but they couldn’t contain the Spudders for long. Ridgefield rallied from three points down late, tied the score at 25-25 and then earned two more points to secure the victory and the match.
“We created the energy on the floor, on our bench and in the crowd, and it just carried the whole way through from start to finish,” Nicoll said. “Getting back up in those two sets after we were down says a lot about this team. It was a struggle. We were on our toes the whole time.”
Taylor Foster led Woodland with 18 kills, 4 blocks and 2 aces. Swett collected 10 kills, 11 assists and 2 blocks. Booker earned 27 digs and Nicole Guthrie gained 26 assists and 3 kills.
“I’m impressed by the way they played,” said Woodland head coach Danielle Hutton. “We were disappointed in ourselves after the first match against them. We wanted to prove that we were a different team. We showed a lot more fight this time.”
Booker has already eclipsed 1,000 digs in her high school career at Woodland.
“It felt really great to finally get there,” she said. “Now I’m just going to get as many as I can before the season ends.”
Ridgefield lost both of its matches to Woodland last season. The teams never got to face each other again in the postseason because the Beavers went 0-2 at districts and dropped out. The Spudders captured the district championship and then took third place at state.
This time around, Ridgefield would be wise not to take any team lightly. There’s still plenty of volleyball to play.