Blue Mountain was sent packing from the consolation round of the Northwest Athletic Conference tournament against the Lower Columbia Red Devils on Friday afternoon.
The Timberwolves (25-10, 11-5) fell into the loser-out bracket after a five-set loss to Chemeketa on Thursday. They climbed back into the tournament after topping Skagit Valley in three, but couldn’t keep it going in Friday’s best-of-three match.
Outside hitter Mariah Moulton kicked things off with a kill to put Blue Mountain ahead first, but Lower Columbia’s offense was stronger.
The Red Devils committed nine attack errors and two on serving in the first set, to help give the Timberwolves a 13-5 lead. The Red Devils played catch-up to pull within 24-23, but Blue Mountain middle blocker Faith McQueen put the set away on the next play.
It wasn’t long before Devils got it together. Lower Columbia took a 2-point lead early in set two, and although the Timberwolves managed to tie them up twice, they couldn’t keep up the pace.
At one point in the set, McQueen caught a ball in the eye and missed the rest of the match.
“At this point in the season, it was a struggle to rebound after losing one of our strongest offensive players,” Blue Mountain coach Jessica Humphreys said.
The injury softened the Timberwolves up enough for the Red Devils to take the set 25-22.
Ashlynn Cantwell, Megan Miller and Macey Wright opened set three strong to give the Red Devils a 5-point lead. Timberwolves outside hitters Sydney Neuman and Moulton held firm offensively to even the score at 13-13, but an attack error from Neuman and block from Miller sealed the match, 15-13.
“The team played well,” Humphreys said. “Although the NWAC didn’t see our best game, I have to commend their effort. Despite all that added adversity, they came together and fought back. They played aggressively, and to win. Those were our biggest goals for this tournament.”
Neuman had eight kills and Moulton seven, and libero Reinena Schenbeck-Chang recorded 16 digs to lead Blue Mountain.
In Thursday’s win against Skagit Valley, the Timberwolves won two sets to stay alive.
Blue Mountain dropped the first set 25-20. But the Timberwolves bounced back to win the second set 25-20 and the third set 15-13 to move forward in the tournament. Sophia Casarez added 22 assists and McQueen scored three aces to lead the team.
“This one was more of a team effort,” Humphreys said. “The freshmen stepped up and every player got on the court for this match.”