COOS BAY — The final point wouldn’t come easy for Marshfield's volleyball team Thursday night. The Pirates had a whale of a time scoring the deciding point in each set as they had on the first 23 occasions so far this season.
But Marshfield worked through the struggles, holding off Junction City for a hard-fought 26-24, 26-24, 25-19 sweep to earn its first Sky-Em League win of the season.
“They like to, I think, sometimes relax,” Marshfield coach Tammie Montiel said, “Then when the pressure gets put on them, they step up their games a little bit. I guess that’s a good trait in some ways, but in some ways you want to kick ‘em from the start and play that way from the start of things.”
The third-ranked Pirates had no easy moments against the Tigers, never leading by more than eight at any time and trailing by as many as five.
But the experienced group bowed its back when necessary and came up with runs or points or stops when it needed them, holding off a Junction City comeback in the first set while mounting a comeback of its own in the second.
“Sometimes when it gets to the end, we have trouble getting that point right back and finishing,” Alex Locati said. “We’re gonna work on that (Friday.)”
A pair of Locati aces in the first set propelled the Pirates to an early 5-1 lead, forcing a Tigers timeout, but Junction City remained at arm’s length, allowing for the chance of a comeback.
It got that chance when four straight Marshfield miscues, three lifts and a double hit, erased a 21-17 lead, tying the game at 21 and forcing Montiel to call timeout.
Marshfeld claimed a 24-22 lead on Mikayla Myrand’s fifth kill of the match, giving it a set point and an opportunity to keep its 23-set winning streak alive.
The Tigers came back to tie it at 24. But a Junction City lift and hit outside the antenna handed Marshfield the initial set win, keeping alive the winning streak.
Junction City built a 20-15 lead in the second set, capitalizing on a suddenly struggling Marshfield offense. Marshfield won serve then Locati bounced in her third ace of the night, helping Marshfield win eight of 10 points for a 24-22 lead and another set point.
But, again, Marshfield couldn’t close and, behind Brooklyn Gage’s arm, the Tigers again pulled even at 24.
“We didn’t let a lot go (defensively),” Montiel said.
Marshfield again found a way. Kenadi Rhoades came up with a kill, her sixth so far, for a 25-24 lead, then Junction City hit one out that was nearly tipped by Ravyn Miranda to pull ahead two sets to none.
Smelling the sweep, Marshfield cruised through the third set, again running into some trouble late but, playing with a large cushion, got away with a sweep relatively early.
Rhodes led the Pirates with 10 kills, coming up with them at key times. Myrand had eight kills, helping pick up the slack for Locati who wasn’t happy with her hitting. The tall senior still added four aces, looking for somewhere to contribute. Miranda had 28 assists and a pair of aces.
“Kenadi and McKayla had a lot of good kills tonight,” Locati said. “I was a little off. But they picked it up.
“I wasn’t hitting good, so I knew if I could just get my serves in, get some aces that would make up for that.”
Marshfield has two more non-league matches at Hidden Valley on Saturday. The Pirates face the Mustangs at 9:30 a.m. then play Banks at 11. They then get their first shot against the team that kept them out of the state tournament last year when they visit Cottage Grove on Tuesday.