MOSES LAKE — They were toast.
Moses Lake dropped the first two sets and Eastmont was ready to start spreading on the jelly in Tuesday’s season opener. But instead of starting the Jennifer Gering era on the wrong side of a sweep, the Chiefs showed a little spunk and climbed back in with a gritty, scrambling, chase-everything-down defense.
Middle hitter Yasmin Shateri picked her spot and dinked the ball into the empty zone in the middle of the Wildcats’ resistance and the Chiefs (1-0) came back from two sets down to beat Eastmont 17-25, 21-25, 25-21, 25-22, 15-13.
“I knew the middle was open and they were backing up for the big hit. So I went with a softer shot,” Shateri said. “It’s a really good sign we can come together and play like this.”
The Chiefs have just three seniors. They have some things to clean up, but you can’t coach competitive fire and Gering saw some good things to build on.
“The turnaround was about not focusing on the bad stuff and just coming back and playing hard,” the first-year head coach said. “This means a lot to me, but it means a lot more for the girls. It’s our first league match for Moses Lake and it’s important to play hard.”
Ashlyn Haneberg, a 5-foot-6 outside hitter, finished with a team-high nine kills for the Chiefs. Gabi Rios added eight kills and Shateri had seven kills, five blocks and two service aces.
“I think as a young team we still have a lot of experience. A lot of us have played club ball together, so we’ve played a lot together,” junior middle hitter Renee Ohs said. “The key to the game is knowing that you can always go farther and not to give up. We have to clean up some things, but believing in each other really makes a difference.”
The Wildcats (0-1) took a commanding lead, winning the first set 25-17 and then the second, 25-21. Despite the fact the second game was tied five times, even as far along as 20-20. Eastmont rolled off five straight points to secure a 2-0 lead.
“This says a lot about their character. They’re going to give it everything they have,” Gering said. “They left it all on the floor. We know what we need to work on and improve, but this is definitely something we can build on.”
The Chiefs started the spark with a 25-21 win in the third to keep the match alive. Shateri had a huge block to give Moses Lake a 23-19 lead in the fourth game, then finished it off with a game-winning kill to send the night to a fifth and decisive set.
“It’s a really good sign to win this one tonight,” Shateri said. “I was very happy with the blocks tonight. Our double blocks in the middle were great. I went single sometimes on the outside, but we really blocked well.”
Moses Lake opened up an 8-3 lead in the fifth. It was tied at 10-10, 12-12, and again at 13-13, but the young Chiefs closed strong and Shateri put down the match-winner.
The Chiefs travel to Spokane to play Ferris on Thursday, then hit the Ephrata Invitational on Saturday.
Eastmont — 25 25 21 22 13
Moses Lake — 17 21 25 25 15
Highlights: Ashlyn Haneberg 9 kills; Gabi Rios 8 kills; Yasmin Shateri 7 kills; Krista Hutsell 23 digs; Serina Haneberg 18 assists