The Tillamook High Cheesemakers are certainly off to a good start in their Class 4A Cowapa League schedule after winning their first two games.
The Cheesemakers (2-0 league, 2-1 overall), guided by Coach LaVonne Rawe, won 3-1 over the St. Helens Lions (0-2 league, 0-3 overall) Sept. 6 at St. Helens Middle School. The Cheesemakers were hoping to capture a third straight Cowapa League game when they met the Seaside Seagulls (0-1 league, 1-2 overall) today at 6:30 p.m. at Tillamook High School.
"We're working out a lot of kinks right now, but I think that the harder that we play, the smarter we get and we're only going up from here," said Rawe. "But you can't underestimate anyone in the Cowapa League. I'm really proud of our team, because we had a super hot bus ride coming out here and we were kind of lackadaisical at the beginning, but then we pulled through. They're a very coachable group. They have some raw things that we need to work out."
The Cheesemakers came from behind after dropping the first set 25-22 to the Lions. The Mooks played the next three sets with a little higher intensity level, while limiting their mistakes to pull out an impressive 22-25, 25-21, 25-17, 28-26 victory.
The second set was knotted five consecutive times, with the final deadlock at 5-5. The Mooks then gained a sideout and a 6-5 lead. Tillamook junior setter Dannika Goss helped ignite a rally as she served three straight service points, putting the Mooks up 9-5.
"I'm very proud of our team," said Goss. "I knew our team was strong and I felt sure that we would come back after losing the first set. I knew that would be able to dominate the remainder of the match and that's what we did. It's a really nice here and it's the first time we've been here (middle school) and even though it was hot outside (90 degrees), it was nice and cool inside here. It's definitely different facing new teams in the Cowapa League this year, but I really feel like our team is capable of doing great things this year."
The revamped Cowapa added St. Helens and Scappoose to the five-team league this year. Former league teams Valley Catholic and Banks moved down to the OSAA Class 3A level.
The two evenly matched teams then traded points for a majority of the match and Tillamook built a 19-14 lead, forcing a St. Helens timeout. Tillamook extended its advantage to 21-15 for its largest lead of the set. The Lions fought back and trimmed the margin to 21-19, forcing a Mooks timeout.
Tillamook middler blocker Kate Klobas then started to take control, while utilizing her heighth advantage to pound kills to the floor and score some points. After a Klobas kill made it 22-19, senior Emily Skaar served the last two service points for Tillamook. Klobas followed with an exclamation point as she blocked a Lions shot to the floor to help give Tillamook a set two 25-21 win.
"Our goal was to come in here and win," said Klobas. "We've worked really hard in practice and we just wanted to put our best foot forward and we accomplished our goal by doing that. I'm really proud of our team and if we keep working hard and we keep moving forward, then we'll just hope for the best. I think we're capable of being one of the top contenders in the Cowapa League this year."
In the third set, it was Goss who helped lift Tillamook in front early as she served five straight service points, including two aces, putting the Mooks up 5-0. Tillamook then built a 9-2 lead and appeared to be in control.
St. Helens responded by outscoring Tillamook 12-5 to knot it 14-14 on an ace served by Lions senior middle blocker Briana Holtz. Two more deadlocks followed, with the final one at 16-16. A Tillamook sideout put the Mooks up 17-16 and they held the lead for the remainder of the set.
Goss again showed her strong serving skill as she served six straight points from the service line to help the Mooks take control on the scoreboard at 23-16. A Klobas kill gave the Mooks set point at 24-17 and after a Lions hitting error, Tillamook got the win at 25-17 and a 2-1 set lead in the match.
"We're working on whether we want her (Klobas) on the outside or in the middle," said Rawe. "In our previous match (a 3-0 win Sept. 1 over Astoria), she was great on the outside. In this match, she played great in the middle, so I guess it just depends what day it is."
The Mooks fell behind early in the fourth set, but then came back and got their first lead of the game at 11-10 when senior outside hitter Keira Thompson served an ace. Tillamook then extended its lead 18-12, led by Skaar, who served four straight service points. The Lions came back with a 6-1 run and narrowed the margin to 19-18.
Tillamook extended its advantage to 22-18, forcing a St. Helens timeout. The Lions responded with a 6-2 rally, tying it 24-24. Two more deadlocks followed with the final one at 26-26. A Lions hitting error put the Mooks up 27-26 and then quite fittingly, Goss again demonstrated her outstanding serving as she delivered a match winning ace for a 28-26 victory.
"She (Goss) has worked incredibly hard every day at practice and she's a good kid too," said Rawe.
Tillamook plays in a tournament at 10 a.m. Saturday at Cascade High School. The Mooks have a Cowapa League showdown for first place at home versus the No. 2 ranked Scappoose High Indians (2-0 league, 3-0 overall) Sept. 13 at 6:30 p.m. Following that key matchup, the Mooks play in a tournament Sept. 17 at Sisters High School in Central Oregon.