LAKEWOOD - Heading in to the gym of one of the league's hottest teams on that team's senior night is a daunting task in any sport and any league.
But for the North Thurston volleyball team, everything came together in a 3-2 Class 3A Western Cascade Conference win at Lakes.
The Rams were victorious by game scores of 25-16, 21-25, 25-20, 15-25 and 15-9.
"It's fun to go into somebody else's gym, on their senior night when there's a lot of energy, and kind of sneak up on them and control the match there at the end," Rams coach Micah McBride said.
North Thurston's offense flowed through middle blocker Monika Karney, who came up with 23 kills and five blocks.
"North Thurston played lights out tonight," Lakes assistant coach Lisa Foss said. "Their middle blocker was on her game. They played very well and they played defensively better than we did tonight."
Taylor Stoeckle was a force for the Rams on defense and at the service line with 13 digs and 20-of-23 serving with an ace. Setter Kelsie Alexander had 37 assists.
"We had been working on passing and serving and hitting and they all came together on the same night," McBride said. "The kids saw that when you take care of the little things, big things happen."
The Rams improved to 6-5 in the WCC, and probably will have the No. 4 seed into the district tournament. Not that they are worried.
"We think we're playing our best volleyball right now," McBride said.
Tenino 3, Winlock 0
Tenino overpowered Winlock in a Class 1A Southwest Washington Evergreen Division match.
"We did really well and stayed up the whole time." Beavers coach Emily Peterson said. "We have trouble being mentally tough and we played tough tonight. It was good to serve really well tonight."
Jeannine Peterson led Tenino with 16 kills and three blocks. She added seven digs and four aces. Beavers teammate Frances Zars had nine digs and five aces. Cassandra Muxen had six aces.
Centralia 3, RIVER RIDGE 0
Melanie Boyajian and Lynne Allen were two of the key players in a vital Class 2A Evergreen Conference win for Centralia.
Boyajian went 16-for-16 serving with three aces, adding six kills. Allen kept the flow going with 25 assists.
For the Hawks, Rosie Gilbert and Kasey Fejeran led the team with eight digs. Fejeran also notched seven kills and had two aces serving.
Centralia improved to 9-3 in league play and will travel to face Black Hills at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
River Ridge fell to 8-5 in the league, 9-5 overall.
Timberline 2, North Thurston 1
Freshman midfielder Kristen Piephoff's second goal of the season came at a perfect time for Timberline, breaking a 1-1 tie and boosting the Blazers to an exciting win over their Lacey rival.
"Unfortunately, it was a little too exciting in the second half for my comfort," Timberline coach Jeff Peltier said.
The Blazers got on the board first when Danna Warman scored off an assist from Tashi Kerr in the 34th minute. But the Rams struck back early in the second half when Chrissy Wichman found the net unassisted.
"We were a little flat in the second half and they came out with a lot of energy like you would expect in a rivalry game," Peltier said. "They got the goal and it was a pretty heated match after that with both sides trying to get the win."
And it was Piephoff who nailed the game-winner from around 20 yards out, with an assist from Maddy Glainyk.
"It was just a laser beam into the net," Peltier said.
The Blazers improved to 4-6 in the WCC, but are out of the playoff picture.
Black Hills 2, Centralia 0
Alli Isaacson and Nikki Farwell each scored unassisted goals as Black Hills notched its sixth shutout of the season to improve to 10-2 in EvCo play.
The Wolves held an 8-2 advantage in shots on goal with keepers Katie Jones and Mea Johnson combining to keep the Tigers off the board. Johnson had three saves.
"We had a lot of different opportunities," Wolves coach Lisa Summers said. "I thought the girls played really well in interesting weather at times. I really applaud the effort of my defense."
Tumwater 7, River Ridge 1
Tumwater saw one streak end, but the Thunderbirds' offense responded and the team extended a much more important one with a win over River Ridge.
When the Hawks' Sarah Tallman buried a penalty shot in the game's 14th minute, the T-Birds' string of 11 straight 2A Evergreen Conference games without yielding a goal came to an end.
But seven Tumwater goals and a blowout victory later, the team's winning streak remained intact.
"And that's what counts," Tumwater co-head coach Lew Kittle said.
Brandy Orgill scored four goals and an assist, Charlene Hitchcock and Aundreaha Martinez each notched a goal and an assist and the T-Birds were never threatened after initially trailing 1-0.
"It was wet weather, the ball played quick and the girls played great," Kittle said. "That's one of the things you worry about - will they drop their heads and quit? But they came roaring back."
With the win, Tumwater improved to 12-0 in the Evergreen Conference and needs just one more win to clinch the league championship.
Capital 1, Yelm 0
Jena Russell scored the game's lone goal in the 30th minute, off an assist from Kari Flaatrud and Capital improved to 9-1 in the WCC with a win over pesky Yelm.
With the Cougars trying to run down Shelton for the league championship, the game was critical for a team which has already qualified for the district tournament, but wants the best seed possible. The Cougars will face the Highclimbers on Tuesday in a game that will likely decide the championship.
"It was good to get the win against a feisty Yelm team that always battles us hard," Cougars coach Devin Proctor said. "It wasn't great conditions but the girls are battling for a league championship. In order for Tuesday's game to mean something, they had to win tonight."
Capital keeper Libby Stone had only three saves in the game, but turned away a key shot late in the game with Yelm desperately hunting an equalizing score.
When a Yelm striker put a shot right on the goal's corner, Stone was able to elevate and get just enough of the ball to knock it over the crossbar, according to Proctor.
"Libby Stone's been great for us," he said.
Eight of Capital's wins have come by shutout.
Tenino 2, OCOSTA 1
Tenino scored two goals early and let its midfielders carry the game away in possession as the Beavers trumped Ocosta in a 1A Evergreen Division match.
Tiffany O'Brien and Jenny Slocum scored for Tenino while keeper Amanda Fisher collected four saves.
"I have to praise my midfield. They did an excellent job at controlling the ball," Tenino coach Kurt Brown said.
"I've been messing with that more than anything else," said the first-year coach. "We have a new system so they're getting used to what I'm looking for. Things are starting to click."
Tenino rose to 4-5 in league play and 4-9 overall.
"The main thing (is to) win the next two games and finish on a positive note," Brown said.