Arlington spikers can’t overcome the Bearcats

ARLINGTON — Second-place Monroe trailed Snohomish by only a league win for the Wesco 4-A North lead on Oct. 18 when it hit the road for a game against a last-place Arlington team that was hungry for a win.

“We’re athletically talented — everyone can compete,” said Arlington coach Melissa Thompson of her team that had been prone to lapses in execution all season. “We have depth, but we need to be mentally tough.”

The Bearcats had found great success despite having only three seniors, while Arlington had struggled all season despite having six.

“Our seniors are a big base of strength,” Monroe coach April Munoz said of her Bearcat juggernaut. “We try to throw the other teams’ blocks off and attack from multiple places so they don’t know where it’s coming from.”

Monroe would soon find that this Arlington squad is not one to roll over.

The Eagles took the first two points and jumped out to a 5-1 lead before Monroe tied it up at 9-9. Arlington led 17-13 when Munoz called for a timeout and demanded that her team play better defense. The Bearcats answered the call and outscored the Eagles 12-3 to win the first game 25-20.

Monroe’s post-timeout momentum carried over into Game 2 as the Bearcats clawed Arlington for a 11-4 advantage before Thompson called timeout. Monroe stayed strong and cruised to win Game 2, 25-12.

“I told the team not to focus on the score — focus on the game,” said Thompson of the timeout. “Play with a sense of urgency.”

The teams traded points to a 4-4 tie in Game 3 before the Bearcats clamped down and took a 9-5 lead that would be cut down to a 7-6 lead because of illegal substitution in which Monroe players came into the game without having been cleared for entry, therefore voiding the points earned in that time. The break seemed to be just what Arlington needed because they returned from a 12-6 deficit to within a point at 13-12 and fought to keep that margin until they tied the game at 19 apiece. The sides traded points again until Arlington seized a 22-21 lead after a Monroe serve sailed out of bounds. The Eagles led 23-21 until the Bearcats finished them with four straight points to win Game 3, 25-23, and sweep the match three games to none.

“I was proud of our kill percentage and serve-receive,” Thompson said after the match representative of her team’s season. “But our mental toughness has to be worked on — it has to improve.”


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