MISSOULA — The Kalispell Flathead volleyball team defeated Missoula Big Sky in straight sets Tuesday, 27-25, 25-7, 25-11, at the Eagles' gym.
The teams engaged in a slug fest in the first set, going blow for blow up until game point.
Big Sky had Flathead up against the wall when Bravettes’ coach Nicole Fairclough called a series of timeouts in an attempt to focus her team for the final crucial points.
"I told them they needed to keep being aggressive at the net, but they needed to make adjustments to get the ball in," said Fairclough. "We had a lot of errors in that first game and I think we weren't communicating to the best of our abilities. We needed to get out there, be loud and keep swinging, but they needed to find the court."
After the timeout, with the first set tied 25-25, Flathead’s Taylor Henley heeded her coach's advice and took over.
Henley feigned a hard spike and gently placed the ball between the layers of the Big Sky defense to put the Bravettes up 26-25. She then emphatically stonewalled a Big Sky spike at the net to win the first set, 27-25.
"I saw that their defense was playing farther back in the back row, so I saw that the tip would be open," Henley said.
Henley’s sequence of events provided a huge momentum shift for the Bravettes, who opened the second set with a 7-0 run. They increased their lead to 14-1 before winning the set, 25-7.
"Our team came in strong and ready. We fought every single play in the first set," Big Sky coach Mathew Pimentel said. "There was just a momentum shift after that first set."
The Bravettes never looked back as Henley and her front row partners — fellow six footers Julia Burden and Madde Boles — fired a salvo of spikes at the Eagles to put them away for good.
The Bravettes’ trio of six footers were setup by Sierra Wilhelm and her terrific 37-assist performance.
Henley finished with 13 kills while Boles was right behind with 12 of her own.
Henley admited that their height plays a large role in the fits that her and her teammates cause opposing teams.
"Our height really intimidates the other teams and helps makes our defense strong," she said.
And strong is just the word to describe the Bravettes' performance against Big Sky.
With the win, Flathead moved to 6-6 on the season.
Big Sky will try to get back on track against Kalispell Glacier at 1 p.m. Saturday.