Saints end regular season with road win
|Mt. Hood (25, 24, 25, 25)|
|Clark (21, 26, 17, 22)|
VANCOUVER — The Mt. Hood Community College volleyball team closed out the regular season with a four-set road win at Clark College on Tuesday night, outscoring the host Penguins 99-86 over the course of the match.
After splitting the first two sets, Mt. Hood gained the upper hand with a surge early in the third that saw the Saints win 8 of 9 points — six of them coming as a result of Clark misfires.
Mt. Hood's Lea'a Puleiala sent a power shot down the line that knocked Clark's Kailey Hoyt backward to the floor to boost the lead to 18-12.
The Saints closed in on set point when Gabby Sanchez spun down an ace in front of Clark's libero, and Mikinley Prengel came up with kills from edge side of the net.
Mt. Hood took the set on their first opportunity 25-17 when libero Katie Saephanh dived into the middle for a one-armed save on a Clark dump shot, and teammate Amaya Carter hit an attack deep to win the point.
"We just had to focus on the fundamentals," Carter said. "We knew we could do it if we focused on the basics."
Mt. Hood charged out to an 11-5 lead early in the fourth set when Bethany McKnight converted a tip shot from the 10-foot line.
But Clark would battle back and the teams would trade the lead six times before Mt. Hood gained the lead for good 20-19 after Carter spiked a ball down the line. The Penguins got three touches on it, before sending the ball into the net.
Carter and Sanchez each saw flat-footed shots fall on the other side, and the Saints went up 23-21 when Puleiala got low for a dig along the end line. The ball carried over the net and fell in Clark's front row.
The Saints ended the night when McKnight dug up a tip shot in the center of the court, and Puleiala swatted a winner into the deep corner.
Mt. Hood (18-12) advances to the Northwest championship tournament in Tacoma, beginning with a first-round match against North champ Whatcom (20-8) on Thursday, Nov. 21.
Whatcom was pushed to extra points in the third set, but pulled off a sweep over Mt. Hood at an early-season tournament in Spokane. The Orcas outscored Mt. Hood 77-65 in that match.
"We are on a streak, so we are super pumped," Carter said. "We know we can do it if we play our best."
Mt. Hood enters the playoffs winners of seven of its last eight matches.
The Saints got off to a quick start Tuesday night with Zoe Chatterton, a Corbett High graduate, banging a kill off two Penguins and into the bleachers for a 7-2 lead in the first set.
Mt. Hood expanded the lead to as many as eight points when Saephanh dived down for a dig at the 10-foot line, saving the ball for McKnight, who pounded out a kill.
Clark rallied to tie the score at 20, but Puleiala came up with a persistent effort to keep the Saints in front. After having one attack blocked back over, and another set move off target, Puleiala converted on her third chance by putting up a block on the right side.
She added a powerful kill that deflected off two Penguins on its way out of bounds to bring up set point, which Clark surrendered by setting the ball out of bounds.
The teams traded the lead nine times in the second set before Clark emerged 26-24 for its only win of the night.
Puleiala led the Saints attack with 18 kills and three blocks, while Carter finished with nine kills and 20 digs.
View photos at ...
This story is slated for our Friday, Nov. 15, print edition.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.