SPORTS by Jack Kintner
Lady B’s triumph in league opener at home
Blaine’s volleyball team played its first league contest with mid-season form as they took the measure of a scrappy and quick Bellingham squad 3-1 at home Tuesday night.
“It wasn’t my best game,” said senior outside hitter Veronica Rooney, “but it felt good to get the win.”
The team played hours of competitive pre-season games last Saturday at the Mariner Invitational in Everett, and the practice showed up. Several long volleys included shots and saves that would have mostly been well beyond last year’s squad, one that seemed to have a few moments of brilliance in the midst of mediocrity. This season, so far, that’s been reversed, with a lot of great shot-making interspersed with a few mental lapses and moments of lost focus.
One reason for that is the setting ability of senior Kristen Stanovich, a transfer (from Dallesport, Washington) last year who’s moved into the varsity in a big way, setting consistently from either side with the reliability of a Swiss watch to Rooney and to Libby Moore and Jordan Oldham, both of whom have a lot of raw power that can, at times, get away from them.
Senior libero Jessica Wallen, who shares shortest team member honors at 5’ 3” along with Nicole Christiansen, dug out some last minute saves, and the whole team played almost perfectly in terms of violations and penalties.
The Lady B’s controlled things in the first two games but stalled in the third, at one point falling behind 16-23 before coming back to nearly tie before losing to the surging Red Raiders 25-22. They came roaring back in the fourth game, Rooney pounding her serves for one six-serve stretch. She’s one of the few players who tosses the ball with her serving (right) hand, something she said she saw in the Olympics.
Stanovich ended up with 22 assists. Rooney was 40 out of 46 with attacks, 17 of which were kills, and Oldham had a perfect night serving going 14 out of 14.
“The team came together and played hard to get a great win to start off the season,” said head coach Nikki Hallberg. “I have all the girls back from last year. They have a strong work ethic and team unity that every coach would love to have.”
The Borderites play Meridian on the 18th and Burlington on the 23rd, both on the road, before returning for a home game with triple-A Ferndale on September 25.
Slivers from the bench...
Blaine girls caught napping by Anacortes
Blaine’s highly effective soccer machine went on the fritz at home Tuesday afternoon, one of those lazy Indian summer days when one’s thoughts may not be as competitive as they might be.
Aside from a beautiful crossing pass Sam Nault booted in for a score, Blaine fell behind by three, 4-1, before the half.
In the second half Blaine played like Blaine can, and outscored the Seahawks on the strength of a beautiful (and long) shot by forward Chanel Colinares.
Unfortunately the disastrous first half counted, so Blaine gave away its second home game 4-2.
They travel to Meridian on Thursday, September 18, Mount Vernon (to play Sultan) on Saturday, September 20, at noon and Burlington at 6 p.m. on September 23 before returning home on Thursday, September 25 against Ferndale at 4:30 at the Pipe.
Register for benefit golf tourney
Blaine boys golf coach Steve Barthlow and the Blaine Golf Boosters are drumming up hole sponsorships and participants for a Sunday, October 5, golf fundraiser to be held at Semiahmoo Golf and Country Club.
Barthlow reminds players that foursomes need to register by September 27.
For more information about playing, volunteering or sponsoring a hole, contact Barthlow at email@example.com.
Blaine’s Craig stops Anacortes Seahawks – again
David Craig saved Blaine’s bacon for the second year in a row with a last-second interception against Anacortes, helping to insure a close and hard-fought 19-14 victory that had a strange but, thanks to Craig, happy ending.
Last year Blaine used a strong second half to tie Anacortes in the fourth quarter, and a Seahawk touchdown was averted by Craig’s interception, preserving the tie for an overtime win by a Patrick Mulholland field goal.
This year Blaine was faced with a fourth down on their own 15 which meant giving Anacortes the ball with time for several plays.
“I over thought on that next play,” said Blaine head coach Jay Dodd in describing what happened next at the end of the game with Blaine ahead 19-12. Knowing that Blaine’s kickoff coverage has been better than its punt coverage, given the spread out defensive formation a regular kick-off allows instead of the tighter pocket necessary to protect against a blocked kick, Dodd told junior punter Tanner Weaver to run out of the back of the end zone instead of kicking. Anacortes’s starting quarterback Chris Stoneham had already burned Blaine’s punting team for 40 yards and a first half touchdown.
That would give up a two point safety but allow Blaine to kick the ball back to Anacortes any way it wanted to, allowing for the safer alternative of a regular formation kick-off. “The trouble with that is that if they score, then, they’ll win,” said Dodd. He tried to tell Weaver to scramble a bit in the end zone when Anacortes called time before Blaine’s fourth down was played but he ran out of time and had to get off the field before a glaring and impatient ref.
“The defense saved it for us,” Dodd said, and he was right. Anacortes completed a long pass but then in trying to spike the ball to stop the clock, Seahawk quarterback Cody Addison mishandled the snap and was instead sacked at the line. Blaine’s Miguel Alvarez then penetrated the line and sacked Addison again, this time for a seven-yard loss. Since the clock kept running on both plays Anacortes was down to their last play, a Hail Mary that Craig intercepted in the end zone to preserve the win, shutting down the Seahawk offense like a squashed bug.
Earlier, Casey McCabe put Blaine on the boards first with a late first quarter seven-yard run. McCabe ground out 69 yards total in 16 carries in a workmanlike job. Anacortes answered with two scores, one of them Stoneham’s 40-yard touchdown scamper, but without scoring either extra point Blaine was able to take back a one-point lead with a flat pass to Jacob Rogers just before the half.
Shaffer Hicks got two picks from Stoneham, one of them leading to a Caleb Statham touchdown with just under four minutes left in regulation. Statham ended up with 74 yards on five carries. In the air, Anacortes managed to shut down Blaine’s ace Trevor Chau, but Jacob Rogers stepped up to garner 88 yards on five receptions. Senior quarterback Daniel Gorze went ten for 18 for 109 yards and no interceptions.
Blaine’s next game is a big one, with triple-A Ferndale, last year’s league champs who return a bunch of fast, high-quality players, including a Locker or two, and who will bring several thousand fans with them. It’s here at home, but be forewarned: buy your ticket early if you can at the high school office between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., and for parking get to the field early. Stadium gates open at 5:15 p.m.