North Bend’s senior volleyball players have been waiting a long time for this year.
The squad with eight seniors followed up its two wins to start the Midwestern League season with a three-set win over host Marshfield on Tuesday at the Pirate Palace.
It wasn’t just North Bend’s first match in the Bay Area this year, it was their first match in front of home fans in nearly two years, with last year’s season first delayed until the spring and then mostly played outdoors or in empty gyms.
“I think it’s nice to be back on an actual court, with spectators,” said Sydney Wilson, one of the seniors. “It’s a lot different to be able to have people to be there to cheer you on.”
And there were a lot of people, especially students from the two schools for the rivalry game.
And both sides had a lot to cheer for early in the match, with long rallies giving an early indication of the tough defense that would mark much of the evening.
North Bend rallied from a hole in the first set before winning 25-23. Then the Bulldogs took a see-saw second set that went extra points, each team fighting off a set point before North Bend ultimately prevailed, 27-25.
In the third set, Marshfield went up 14-6 before the Bulldogs again rallied, eventually winning 25-21.
“They just kept fighting and pushing and found ways to get points when we needed to,” North Bend coach Summer Sawyer said.
North Bend also trailed early in its first two league wins.
“I’m super proud they keep that fight,” Sawyer said.
The rewards for their persistence have been a long time in the making.
“Freshman year, our season was 0-16,” Wilson said of North Bend’s league record then.
Now Wilson, Olivia Knutson, Bria Hood, Mya Massey, Adrianna Frank, Katie Telliei, Payton Marshall and Emily West are seniors.
And they are having success.
“It feels real good,” Wilson said.
North Bend played solid defense throughout the match, and also showed versatile power on offense, led by explosive sophomore Bridget Gould.
“We’ve worked on putting the ball down and placing the ball where we want to,” Wilson said.
They needed that effort to beat the Pirates.
“We knew it was going to be a battle coming in,” Sawyer said. “They have some phenomenal hitters.”
While North Bend’s rotation is mostly seniors, Marshfield’s squad includes several freshmen and sophomores.
“I have to remember we’re really, really young,” Marshfield coach Tammie Montiel said.
While the Pirates played solid defense much of the night, they weren’t consistent enough on offense, Montiel said.
“We dug up a lot of balls,” she said. “It came down to errors at clutch times.”
Plus, the team didn’t pass the ball well on North Bend’s serves, Montiel said.
Freshman Tatum Montiel led the Pirates with 10 kills and also had 12 digs. Paige McDuff had 12 digs, Kate Miles 11 and Gracie Peach 10. Peach had 16 assists.
Tammie Montiel came away impressed with the Bulldogs.
“North Bend is a great team,” Montiel said. “They’ve got a lot of weapons. They’re scrappy.”
While the Bulldogs remained perfect, Marshfield suffered its first loss.
“It’s never good to lose,” Montiel said. “It’s a good match to learn some early season lessons in what we can get away with.”
And, she added, “It’s a good thing we play them again.”
The rematch comes on Saturday, Sept. 18, when North Bend hosts Willamette in a Midwestern League match, followed by the Pirates playing Willamette and then Marshfield and North Bend meeting.
SUNSET CONFERENCE: Reedsport opened the league season with a four-set win over Toledo on Tuesday, topping the Boomers 25-15, 24-26, 25-18, 25-13.
The win came a few days after the Brave went a perfect 3-0 in the annual Les Schwab Tournament the team hosts. During that tournament Reedsport avenged an earlier loss to Lowell.
In Tuesday’s other league match, Myrtle Point beat Bandon 22-25, 25-18, 25-13, 25-18. It was the season opener for the Bobcats.