Coquille Volleyball Vs. Toledo

Coquille's Hailey Combie bumps the ball Thursday alongside teammate Drew Wilson during a set against Toledo at Coquille High School.

COQUILLE — After Coquille graduated seven seniors from the squad that place fourth at last year’s state volleyball tournament, the team had a lot of holes to fill.

After a slow start to the season, though, the Red Devils are in the driver’s seat for another playoff spot, finishing the first half of the Sunset Conference season unbeaten after a 25-21, 25-21, 25-20 win over visiting Toledo on Thursday.

Coquille leads Reedsport by one game in the standings and can take a commanding lead in the playoff race by beating the Brave at home on Monday.

“I’m very happy,” said Coquille libero Mariah Jarrett, one of three seniors on this year’s club. “I wasn’t sure how the season was going to go. We have improved so much as a team.

“I think we can make it to state as a goal, but win league first. We’re off to a good start.”

Toledo, which has a number of outstanding senior athletes of its own, battled the Red Devils close through most of the first and second sets, but fell to 3-3 in league play, with all their losses coming on the road to Bandon, Reedsport and the Red Devils.

Coquille’s players said they got off to a slow start against the Boomers.

“I think we finally got our heads in the game toward the second set,” said Saige Gallino, who along with her twin, Spencer, join Jarrett as the team’s seniors.

Once Coquille got going, though, the Red Devils were able to beat the Boomers with a combination of tough defense and offense from Saige Gallino, Ellie Ekelund and Hailey Combie.

Ekelund finished with 16 kills and 15 digs, and added three aces. Saige Gallino had 13 kills and 16 digs. Combie had a season high with nine kills. Gaby McCrorey added three kills.

Setter Drew Wilson had 34 assists and 10 digs.

Meanwhile, Jarrett had 11 digs and Spencer Gallino had four digs, three assists and strong passing in serve receive.

The Red Devils are No. 9 in the Class 2A power rankings, though they have a chance to get a boost Saturday, when they compete in the Creswell tournament, which will have a number of top Class 3A and Class 2A teams.

The tournament is not as important as Monday’s match with Reedsport, though.

“We don’t want to overlook anybody for sure,” Saige Gallino said, adding that the team has improved because of its hard work.

“We are going to keep practicing hard and playing hard,” Gallino said.

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Sports Editor John Gunther can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 241, or by email at john.gunther@theworldlink.com. Follow him on Twitter: @jguntherworld.