SPRINGFIELD — As the volleyball season has progressed, North Bend’s attacking options have continued to improve. On Thursday, with an array of options, the Bulldogs overwhelmed Springfield on the way to a sweep (25-20, 25-16, 25-12) of the Millers.
“In the beginning of the season, Chelsea (Howard) or Kaitlyn (Randle) had to be our hitters. Then it went to Chelsea, Mya (Massey), Kaitlyn. And now it’s Chelsea, Emily (West), Mya, Kaitlyn and Abbie Kirby is doing a good job,” said North Bend head coach Jessica Randle. “If you can have six attackers, well that’s a better place to be.”
With offensive weapons all over the court, North Bend got six kills from Kait Randle, Howard and West while Olivia Knutson had four and Kirby three.
“I would rather see this than one girl with 18 kills. I really would because I know that we’ve got depth so I’m happy about that,” said Jessica Randle.
The first time these teams met this season, it was North Bend winning in five sets. Thursday night’s three-set victory was the first time the Bulldogs had swept an opponent in a best-of-five match in exactly two years (North Bend defeated Siuslaw in straight sets on Oct. 10, 2017).
Before North Bend took complete control, Springfield was sticking around in the first set. The Millers even had a short-lived three-point lead early in the set before the Bulldogs went in front and ultimately had a 4-1 run to finish off the set. The exclamation point on the set was an ace from North Bend’s Howard.
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The ace was a sign of things to come as the second set began with Knutson recording three aces in the first six points on the way to a North Bend 6-0 lead. Knutson had six aces while North Bend finished with 10 as a team.
“It started with our serve, getting them out of their system. Not letting them set up the offense that they want to run,” said Jessica Randle. “We’ve been working on serves, serves, serves a lot. Because I watched the way we were serving and my goodness, it wasn’t a varsity serve.”
Taking Springfield out of its offense, the Bulldogs continued to be on the attacking foot. And when the Millers were able to counter, North Bend relied on its depth or the team’s security blanket in libero Isabelle Peck.
“Isabelle Peck is doing a great job when we are out of system of getting it to the pins so we can do something with it,” said Randle. “(She is) taking a leadership role and being that second touch. You don’t even have to question her, everybody knows that she’s going to do it.”
Firing on all cylinders, North Bend used a 10-2 run in the third set to break away from Springfield on the way to a victory.
Sitting in the middle of the league at 6-5, North Bend next faces a pair of teams — Eagle Point at home on Tuesday and Churchill on the road on Thursday — below them in the standings, needing wins to keep its spot in fifth place. To close out the league season the Bulldogs face three teams above them in the standings in Ashland (Oct. 22), Thurston (Oct. 24) and Crater (Oct. 29).