Blue Mountain Community College capped off its volleyball season this weekend with a truly dominant performance in the NWAACC championship match. The win, the team’s 43th of the season, helps put this season’s Timberwolves right at the top in the discussion of greatest BMCC teams ever.
So how did they do it? How did Blue Mountain nab its second NWAACC title in three years despite being targeted as the favorite from the season’s first weeks?
BMCC entered the NWAACC tournament at Gresham’s Mt. Hood Community College with the third highest hitting percentage in the league at .254. That number comes from a formula of kills minus errors divided by total attacks.
But an even more telling figure is how BMCC’s opponents hit against them. At .066, that’s a whole lot of errors that Blue Mountain’s defense forced.
“That’s all we have to basically do sometimes, is wait for the other team to make errors,” Blue Mountain middle blocker Crystal Schmidt said after her team’s semifinal victory against Spokane on Saturday, a match in which the Sasquatch hit .000. “That’s mainly our focus, to limit our errors on our side and force them to make their errors.”
Spokane hit for 21 kills and 21 errors in that match compared to Blue Mountain’s 38 kills and only 14 errors — a .253 clip quite near its season average.
Dave Baty, coach of the Pendleton program, may have noticed the trend but he’s not in the business of letting his team’s opponent lose games for them. He’d much rather Blue Mountain take responsibility for its victories.
“If the opponent gives us points from hitting errors or serving errors then that’s just bonus because we plan on having to earn 25 points each time — 25 kills, 25 blocks, 25 aces,” Baty said. “And if we get some of that given to us then that’s fantastic. ... When those things come we try and use them as momentum builders.”
Every once in awhile, teams can slump, not hitting the way they’re used to, even a power like BMCC. Poor offensive performances were a rarity for the T-Wolves with big guns like Kassi Howarth, Claire Tolbert, Kendra De Hoog and Kensey Mix all swinging along side Schmidt at the net. And the way Robyn Schirmer was setting up those spikers, it’s a wonder BMCC ever ran into hitting errors.
But it does happen, Baty said, especially against other solid competition like Blue Mountain saw at the NWAACC tourney. It’s at times like those that the T-Wolves can rely on their defense and forcing mistakes.
“Most of the time the points are won in situations like this, they’re not won by booming blocks and booming kills,” Baty said of tournament time. “Most of the time they’re won by effort plays of go-get-’em balls and stuff like that. Crazy things off the block and stuff like that.”
By limiting theirs and forcing a few others, it was no error or surprise where Blue Mountain finished its season.
Contact AJ Mazzolini at firstname.lastname@example.org or (541) 966-0839.