COOS BAY — The Marshfield Pirates had a chance Thursday night to clinch at least a share of the Far West League volleyball title, and did so largely without much doubt.
Marshfield jumped to big early leads in the first two sets, then had to battle some of its demons en route to a 25-7, 25-11, 25-21 sweep of the Brookings-Harbor Bruins at Pirate Palace. With South Umpqua’s win over Siuslaw on Thursday, the Pirates and Lancers share the league title and will play Tuesday in Coquille to settle the playoff seeding for the Far West League.
“I feel like really excited and nervous,” Marshfield junior McKayla Myrand said. “From the beginning of the season to now, we’ve obviously improved a lot. We’re trying to be excited and still play well. As you could see, when we’re not as excited we don’t play as well.”
The first two sets felt like a formality almost. Marshfield jumped to a 9-1 lead, which prompted a Bruins timeout, then after a Bruins point, reeled off 12 straight points to cruise to the set win.
It was a similar journey in Set 2, as an early 8-3 lead turned into a 2-0 advantage. The Pirates scored the final six points of the second set and 12 of the last 14.
“The first two sets we were really on top of our game,” Marshfield coach Tammie Montiel said. “The points that Brookings scored were mostly off of our errors and we talked about that going into Game 2 that we need to make them earn their points. When we get into playoffs, we can’t give teams points.”
Marshfield used its unconventional offense to keep the Bruins defense guessing. Marshfield likes to use two setters, Ravyn Miranda and Myrand, to offset its lack of a true back-up middle blocker. This creates some dangerous situations for Marshfield to utilize.
Several times Thursday night, the ball hung in the center of the court with Miranda and Myrand both beneath, looking upward at the spinning volleyball. Several times, Myrand moved quickly to the net, away from the ball, and Miranda slid in and did a quick set to Myrand, who slammed down a kill.
Add this in to the existing attacks of Alex Locati and Kenadi Rhoades, and the result is a varying Pirate offense.
“With us not having a second true middle, we’re able to run our opposite setter in that middle position those other three rotations has really helped us keep teams guessing with what we’re going to do,” Montiel said. “It’s not a conventional offense by any means, but it’s worked for us.”
But as has plagued the young Pirates all season, the third set proved to be a “bugaboo,” as Montiel called it.
After never holding a lead larger than two points earlier in the match, Brookings-Harbor jumped in front early and made Marshfield work back into the lead.
The Bruins led 10-5 on Hannah Humphery’s first kill of the night, but the Pirates started to claw back, scoring five of the next seven points to cut the Bruin lead to 12-10.
After consecutive Bruins points to move the score to 14-10, Marshfield went on a match-concluding 15-7 run. During the final stretch, the Pirates used kills from Myrand (who finished with 11 and six assists), Locati (11 kills, six aces) and Rhoades (eight kills), finished off by a sixth Locati ace. Miranda had 18 assists, three aces and two kills.
Though the Pirates won the set, they continued a troubling trend of lifting off the gas pedal immediately following some success. Montiel said she’s searching for a fix. Myrand said it’s potentially a problem.
“I think that could be something that trips us up later in the season because we have done that and we did that at South Umpqua and we happened to lose that game,” Myrand said. “It can come back to bite us, and we need to work on that.”
Marshfield closes its regular season with the Marshfield Invitational this weekend. The Pirates will be in a morning pool with Class 3A power Creswell as well as Junction City and Mazama. The tournament also includes South Umpqua, North Bend and Siuslaw from the Far West League, Mountain Valley Conference champion Coquille, Sunset Conference champion Reedsport and tough Henley of the Class 4A Skyline League, giving the Pirates several potentially tough opponents during the bracket portion in the afternoon Saturday.
Those tournament will act as the final tuneups before the stakes ramp up for the playoffs.
“It’s good to have it right here at the end of the season to fine tune those things and get ready for that next step,” Montiel said.