MOSES LAKE — Big Bend head coach Michael De Hoog sat down after a match last season and illustrated the path to success.
It wasn’t the linear rise that most imagine, but an uneven line filled with setbacks and comebacks.
Big Bend welcomed an early-season success with a sweep of Columbia Basin. However, undefeated Spokane offered another setback on the path toward an NWAC Tournament berth with a three-set victory Wednesday evening 25-19, 25-19, 25-17.
“We knew that it was going to be a good battle,” De Hoog said. “We saw them down at Eugene and we did our scouting report on film and I felt like there were points out there that we could get.”
All points came at a premium.
Big Bend has no players listed above 5-foot-11; Spokane boasts six players 6-foot or taller.
The Vikings relied on subterfuge to hang with the Sasquatch during the first two sets.
“When we’re attacking, we talk about having a baseball or a softball pitcher’s mentality and changing speed and changing location,” De Hoog said. “We want to try and run the offense fast.”
Big Bend drew as close as three points, 20-17, late in the first set and held a lead for a good chunk of the second. An ace by Ashlee Adams gave the Vikings their largest lead of the second set, 9-5.
Spokane showed why it is the class of the NWAC, closing out the first two sets with late runs to win by six points in each.
Moses Lake High School graduate Sadie Nielsen led the Vikings offensively with seven kills and two aces. Hailey Miller and Yana Recustodio added four kills apiece. Adams led Big Bend with eight digs.
“She (Nielsen) spends the summers coaching at volleyball camps so when you have to teach something our IQ increases dramatically,” De Hoog said. “She brings a level of maturity, high expectations and a really high volleyball IQ.”
Score by sets
S — 25 25 25
B — 19 19 17
Highlights: Sadie Nielsen 7 kills, 2 aces; Hailey Miller 4 kills, 6 digs; Yana Recustodio 4 kills; Ashlee Adams 8 digs; Dakota Egbert 2 aces; Madison Shrope 2 aces
Next: at Lower Columbia Crossover, Friday, 2 p.m.