The Lynnwood Royals volleyball team played host to one of their Edmonds School District and Wesco 3A Conference rivals, the Meadowdale Mavericks, on Thursday night. The match featured two teams, seemingly headed in different directions in the standings, with Lynnwood having won five of their last six games and in the mix for a playoff spot, where Meadowdale had lost six of their last seven games. Those trends would not continue however, with the Mavericks upsetting the Royals in five sets, 3-2 (28-26, 25-19, 10-25, 16-25, 15-9).
The first set of the match saw the Mavericks jump out to an early 14-8 lead thanks to some sloppy play by the Royals and some feisty play of their own.
Lynnwood called a timeout to try to slow down the Meadowdale momentum, but the Mavericks came out of that break and stretched the lead to 21-10 on a couple of key kills by outside hitter Kelsey Cummings.
The Royals refused to roll over, going on a 14-3 run of their own to tie the game at 24.
Having to win the set by two points, the two teams battled back and forth, matching each other at 25 and 26 points before The Mavericks were able to break the tie and win the first set, 28-26.
That back and forth action would set the tone for the night, though. Meadowdale continued their inspired play in the second set, taking the game 25-19 and a 2-0 lead in the best of five set match.
With their backs against the wall, the Royals took the court in the third set and dominated from the first whistle. Their improved play was due in large part to their defense, led by junior libero Kiana Pel. That defense translated into better offensive opportunities for Lynnwood — featuring hitters Riley Monan and Meghan Spears — and a 25-10 victory, to force a fourth set.
It was much of the same in the fourth set for the home Royals, as they cruised to a 25-16 victory and a 2-2 set tie, to stretch the match to a fifth and deciding set to 15 points.
Meadowdale opened with the serve and Lynnwood quickly dug a hole for themselves, mishandling serves on the first two points.
The Mavericks increase their lead to 6-2 to force Lynnwood coach Annalise Mudaliar to call a timeout. That wouldn’t change much after the break as Meadowdale looked like the team in blue during the first two sets. They took a commanding 11-5 lead on the arm of Alivia Meucci, who powered a set from Haley Ball through the block of Lynnwood’s Ally McArthur for the point, forcing yet another time out by the Royals. Meucci was nearly unstoppable in the final set, ending the night with a team-leading 11 kills.
“Alivia played really well tonight.” Mavericks head coach Machen Shrum said of her senior. “She used to be a middle (blocker) for us, but we moved her to the outside, and she’s really been working on her outside swing and being more consistent with it, and tonight it didn’t need to be a hard it, just a consistent hit. She got her chances to hit hard, then she made really good choices as to when to not hit hard, but to just hit smart.”
The Royals scratched out a three-point run out of that timeout to claw closer to the Mavericks, but it wasn’t enough. Meucci, Cummings and the Mavericks proved to be too much for Lynnwood, as they powered to a 15-9 victory for the set and match.
After winning the first two sets, then losing the following two, Coach Shrum told her girls as they prepared for the fifth and final set, to “play like they did in games one and two. We’ve been in this situation a couple of times this year, where we have not come out winning, but there was a different feel tonight. I think the girls had confidence in each other. Even though we lost 25-10, I believe, in the third game, I felt like I saw in them, a confidence and a trust that I haven’t seen for a while.”
Meucci Led the Mavericks with those 11 kills, while Cummings pitched in 10 of her own. Sophomore setter, Haley Ball had 23 assists and Senior Libero, Freya Bloomberg paced the team with 26 digs.
Lynnwood was led by Riley Monan with 24 kills, followed by Abby Douglas with 22, and Meghan Spears added 13. Kiana Pel had 39 digs, while setter Vanessa Guinto dished out 42 assists.
The Mavericks (2-6 in Wesco 3A Conference, 3-7 overall) will take the court again on Tuesday, Oct. 17, at Meadowdale High School, hosting the Edmonds-Woodway Warriors (4-4 in Wesco 3A Conference, 5-5 overall) That match starts at 7 p.m.
The Royals (5-3 in Wesco 3A Conference, 5-5 overall) will return to action this Saturday, Oct. 14, as they take part in a 10-team tournament hosted by the Monroe Bearcats at Monroe High School. Games start at noon.
— Story and photos by Scott Williams