MOSES LAKE — Gabi Rios raced toward the gym’s back bleachers, tracking an errant ball. She made a diving swing to keep the ball in play, which began a long rally that ended in a kill by Ashlyn Haneberg. The kill started a 5-0 run that allowed Moses Lake to regain the lead and win the first set.
“One little play can change a whole rhythm,” Rios said. “With Ashlyn getting that kill and us getting that point ... every point matters. It’s our last time being on this court. We’ve gotta give it our all.”
That effort, from the whole team, carried Moses Lake to a three-set win against Eisenhower 25-21, 25-22, 25-15.
With the win, Moses Lake advances to play Eastmont in a loser-out District match at West Valley High School Saturday at noon. Another win and Moses Lake can play for a berth into the Class 4A State Tournament.
But for right now, Rios and the rest of her teammates celebrated on their home floor for the final time this season.
“We’re all like pretty emotional — like Sydney (Griffith) was crying,” Rios said. “We just all wanted to go out with a win and put all of our effort out there because we know that it’s our last time playing on this court.”
Eisenhower, a typically solid program within the Columbia Basin Big Nine, kept the match tight in the first two sets and eventually gained a 21-20 lead in the first set after a kill by Tamia Allen-Greggs. The Cadets were poised to take a 22-20 lead, and potentially win the first set, before Rios’ heroic save and the Chiefs’ subsequent rally ignited a 5-0 run. Rios recorded three of her 18 kills during the run, including a pinpoint spike into the far left corner for the 25th point.
“She (Rios) was fabulous,” head coach Jennifer Gering said. “She was on, she was reading the floor. If one spot didn’t work, she was trying another. She was jumping high enough and leaving behind the ball so she could see where the floor was and she did a fantastic job. She was reading everything they were doing.”
Moses Lake continued to put the pressure on, building a 16-5 lead in the second set before Eisenhower gradually chipped away at the deficit. The Cadets drew as close as two points, 22-20, before the Chiefs scored three out of the next four points to a take a two-set lead, 25-22. Rios fired another indefensible kill inside the back line to clinch the set.
“We were kind of playing frazzled,” Gering said. “We were letting them control the pace of the game when we should of been controlling our game.”
The Chiefs took firm control in the third set, racing ahead 8-1. Meagan Karstetter recorded a block and kill consecutively to highlight the run. The Chiefs led by as much as 12 points in the third set.
“They wanted to get to Districts so we could get a shot at State,” Gering said. “We have to go after every ball if we want to get to State.”
ML 25 25 25
E 21 22 15
Highlights: Gabi Rios 18 kills, 3 assists, 1 ace, 1 solo block; Ashlyn Haneberg 7 kills; Serina Haneberg 6 kills, 29 assists, 1 solo block; Meagan Karstetter 5 kills