LACEY – Because of being in different classifications, crosstown foes Timberline and North Thurston hadn’t played against each other in volleyball since 2009.
This one was worth the wait.
The Blazers rallied after dropping the first two sets to remain undefeated in Narrows League 3A play with a thrilling 23-25, 24-26, 25-19, 26-24, 16-14 victory over the Rams on Wednesday.
“I told the girls we’ve been down before and fought back,” Timberline coach Krista Manke said. “They just needed to continue to fight and believe in each other.”
With the score tied at 12 in the fifth set, North Thurston, which came in without losing a set all season, grabbed a 14-12 lead on back-to-back aces from Jessica Malchow.
Things looked bleak for the Blazers.
“I told them in the timeout not another ball was going to hit the floor on our side,” Manke said.
The Blazers fulfilled their coach’s demand, getting a pair of kills from Riley Podowicz to close the set (16-14) and the match.
“We had our chances and got tentative at times,” North Thurston coach Micah McBride said. “Give credit to Timberline. It really all came down to the last hit tonight.
“Tonight was electric with the crowd. I’m looking forward to the rematch. It could be for the league title.”
Timberline improved to 7-1 overall and 6-0 in league. The Blazers’ lone loss this season came in five sets to Capital on Sept. 11.
North Thurston fell to 7-1, with a 5-1 league mark.
Podowicz finished with 23 kills, 10 digs, eight aces and seven blocks for Timberline, which also got 16 kills from Nicole Pittelkau, 48 assists and 15 digs from Hunter Manke, and 33 digs from Halie Snaza.
Aided by a block and a kill from Brittany Rutherford and a block from Malchow, North Thurston opened the first set with a commanding 9-0 lead with Harley Harn capping the impressive start with back-to-back aces.
Another kill by Rutherford put North Thurston up 11-2, but back charged the Blazers behind Podowicz. She had three kills before tying the set at 21 with an ace.
A Pittelkau kill followed by a second Podowicz ace gave Timberline a 23-21 advantage.
But the lead was short-lived, because the Rams took advantage of four Blazers errors before Malchow closed things out with a kill to give North Thurston the set, 25-23.
The Rams started off the second set not quite as hot as the first, but still enjoyed a 6-3 lead. Four ties followed before Timberline took its first lead, 14-13, on a Podowicz kill.
North Thurston responded with a 4-0 run to reclaim the lead, 17-14.
The Timberline deficit ballooned to 22-15, but two kills from Pittelkau and one from Emily Tate combined with a Podowicz block gave the Blazers a 24-22 lead.
Just when it looked like the Rams would drop their first set of the season, things went south quickly for Timberline.
Liz Colon followed an error by the Blazers with back-to-back aces, and Haley Harn put away the second set (26-24) with a kill, pushing North Thurston to a 2-0 match lead.
Timberline started the third set 5-0 and got five kills from Podowicz en route to the 25-19 victory.
The fourth set saw 11 ties, the last at 20-20, before Rutherford took over, adding two aces and a kill to her totals to give the Rams a 24-20 lead.
Behind Podowicz, the Blazers rallied, scoring the final six points, including two off Podowicz kills, to even the match at 2-2.
The rematch between the two rivals is scheduled for Oct. 23 and concludes the regular season.
Bellarmine Prep 3, Olympia 1: The Lions remained undefeated in Narrows League 4A with a victory over the Bears, 25-27, 25-13, 25-16, 25-11.
Olympia, which had won its previous two matches, dropped to 4-4 overall and 4-2 in league, while Bellarmine, ranked No. 6 in the 4A coaches poll, improved to 7-1 and 6-0 in league.
Rachel Kelson had 10 kills to pace the Bears. The defending 4A state champions also got eight kills, two blocks and two aces from Hannah Adams and 25 assists from Kayla Thaller.