Colville closes in on GNL v-ball title

But Indians facetough weekIt’s Homecoming Week at Colville High School and that means fall sports’ coaches are wondering how their athletes will react to all that pomp, circumstance and distraction.CHS volleyball coach Missy Bennett, whose Indians are unbeaten in Great Northern League action and haven’t lost a game, much less a match this fall to date, isn’t going on the record to say she has no use for Homecoming. But coaches will worry about focus and not who’s on the Homecoming royalty or who has/hasn’t got a date to the Homecoming dance. “There are distractions,” Bennett said on Monday as her third-ranked Indians prepared to host East Valley (8-2, 8-4) on Tuesday before heading to Pullman (7-2, 7-4) on Thursday (7 p.m. start). Colville will end the regular season on Saturday with a home date against Clarkston (2-8, 2-8). That match is scheduled for a 1:30 p.m. start.Two games upThe Indians have a two game lead in the loss column over Pullman and East Valley with three GNL matches left on the schedule. Colville will host a second round game in the GNL District 7 2A Tournament on Oct. 24. If CHS can hold serve and win the GNL championship, they will host the GNL District tourney on Oct. 27. The top two finishers from the GNL District Tournament will play crossover matches against the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds from the Central Washington Athletic Association.GNL No. 1 will host CWAC No. 4 in a loser-out match. The winner will advance to the State 2A Tournament at Pierce College as the No. 2 seed. GNL No. 2 will travel to CWAC No. 3 and play a loser-out match. The winner will advance to the State 2A Tournament as a No. 4 seed. The CWAC holds all the cardsIn a scenario that is heavily weighted in the CWAC’s favor, that league’s No. 1 and No. 2 teams will get automatic No. 1 and No. 3 berths to the state tournament.No, you don’t want to get Bennett on the record about how unfair this year’s playoff schedule with the CWAC is for the GNL. “I’ve already said enough,” Bennett figured. “It doesn’t take a lot to figure out it’s not a fair tournament (set-up).”LAST WEEKAt home back on Oct. 9, Colville easily dispatched cellar-dwelling Deer Park, 25-10, 25-10, 25-11 behind senior outside hitter Joellee Buckner’s 16 kills and six ace serves.Senior setter Leanna Carr had 26 assists and Jacy Vining and Sadie Learn both had six digs.On Thursday at West Valley (2-8, 2-9), Colville took care of business, burying the Eagles, 25-13, 25-20, 25-7.In that match, Buckner had 14 kills and two blocks. Carr had 30 assists.Bennett was pleased with her team’s play against Deer Park. Not so much at West Valley.“I thought we were very sharp against Deer Park,” Bennett said. “In that match, Joellee (Buckner) was on fire. She played well again against West Valley.Not sharp at WV“I thought we were all sharp and played a clean game against Deer Park…it was just the opposite against West Valley. I didn’t think we were as prepared emotionally as we should have been (against WV)…we weren’t as engaged as we should have been.”The Indians, who have experienced more than their share of injuries this fall, saw junior Tyra Brons go down with an ankle injury against Deer Park. She didn’t play against West Valley, but should be back in action this week.Earlier this season, CHS lost junior middle hitter Aubrey Buckner to a season-ending knee injury. And junior middle hitter Chantel Nussbaum is rounding back into shape after injuring her ankle last month.Despite the most rigorous GNL week of the season to date, Colville has its sights set on a third straight league championship. The Indians won two straight Northeast A League titles and the 2011 State 1A championship before moving back up to 2A.The Indians are 24-1 to date. QUICK SETSWhile Bennett is usually loathe to pay much attention to stat lines, she did find out late last week what her career record at CHS is. To say the least, one of the state’s top high school volleyball coaches has had an impressive run at Colville.But then we knew that already—before the numbers were revealed.Bennett, in her 27th season at CHS, is 609-236 in that span. “I guess there is something to be said for longevity,” she quipped. “I was fortunate enough to come into a very good setting here. I have had great kids and my parents have allowed me to push their kids to be successful. That wouldn’t happen everywhere.”ELSEWHEREIn volleyball matches back on Oct. 9 involving GNL teams, West Valley downed Clarkston, 25-19, 25-23, 25-17 and, in a battle for second place in the GNL, Pullman held off East Valley, 25-22, 22-25, 25-17, 25-14.Last Thursday night, East Valley downed Cheney, 25-19, 25-23, 25-20 and Clarkston downed Deer Park, 25-20, 19-25, 17-25, 25-9, 15-9.