By Ray Hamill — Halfway through their Big 5 volleyball schedule, the Eureka girls have established themselves as the team to beat this year.
On Tuesday night, the Loggers ran out to a comfortable three-sets win over McKinleyville (25-13, 25-13, 25-19), improving to 4-0 at the midway point and appearing well in command.
“We came out flat,” McKinleyville head coach Janis Grondalski said. “Eureka’s got a good team. They’re strong this year. We just came out flat.”
After two huge emotional wins last week over Del Norte and Arcata, the two programs that have dominated the league in recent years, the Loggers traveled to the American Canyon Volleyball Tournament in the Bay Area over the weekend and came out flat themselves.
Eureka carried little of the momentum from the big week into the weekend action, losing to both Moreau Catholic and Casa Grande in straight sets.
Head coach Rachel Evans admitted after Tuesday’s game she was not sure how her players would react against a competitive McKinleyville team that came into the showdown at 10-3.
The Loggers, however, showed no carryover effects from the disappointing weekend, and instead looked as if they were using it as motivation, cruising to their most comfortable league win thus far.
“They did well communicating, staying even keel,” Evans said of her players. “When they communicate, I think they do do well in everything, because they’re in sync, and they know what they’re each doing.”
Paige Lyons, who has become one of the team’s most consistent performers, had another big night directing traffic, finishing with 23 assists, to go with four aces and a pair of kills.
The ever-reliable Makaila Napoleon also had another big night, with team-highs in kills (12), aces (eight) and blocks (four).
Peyton Suchanek added five kills, two blocks and two aces, while Sadie Hampton had seven kills.
For McKinleyville, which drops to 1-2 in league play, Cameron Keenan had a team-high nine kills, while Alexis White and Olivia Alves each had nine digs.
With the win, the Loggers improve to 11-5 on the season.
Next up, on Saturday Eureka travels to play at the Tamalpais Tournament, featuring D-III competition.
And Evans will be hoping for a better showing than last weekend.
“We played two very tough teams, but I didn’t feel they were any tougher than Arcata or Del Norte,” Evans said of the American Canton tourney. “We just could not get into a good rhythm, and when we did, it didn’t last. But we were much better tonight.”
The Panthers will try to get back on track in a very competitive league when they host De Norte on Thursday.