Meridian’s Malaysia Smith racked up 38 assists in the match. (Brent Lindquist/Lynden Tribune)

Meridian’s Hoefer had 16 kills, four aces; Ferndale’s Semu recorded 28 kills

FERNDALE — It was evident from the get-go that the Meridian Trojans came to Ferndale to play Monday evening.

Ferndale junior Avery Schneider started with a kill to open the match, but Meridian quickly answered, and even as Schneider, junior Alyvia Semu and the rest of the Golden Eagles squad went to work, the Trojans took advantage of the holes in Ferndale’s serve-return game, Ferndale coach Patti Hoelzle said, and took the match 3-1.

The Trojans climbed to a 9-3 lead early in the first game before Hoelzle called timeout. Another Trojan point was followed by a Semu kill that set Ferndale up for a comeback. 

Semu would finish the match with a whopping 28 kills. Kaelee Bungard finished with 17 kills and Schneider would end with 13.

Ferndale took the first set 25-23, and the next two would be characterized by a back-and-forth that Meridian ran with. Meridian’s Jolena Hoefer recorded 16 kills and four aces while Finnley Claeys had 19 digs and two aces. Malaysia Smith came away from the match with 38 assists.

“I would say our defense and our tough serving were major keys to this and we came out swinging,” Meridian head coach Shannon Claeys said. “Our goals at the beginning were to be aggressive and not tip too much and just come out swinging, and we did. All of our hitters played amazing. They were so steady the whole match.”

Meridian would win the second, third and fourth sets all with 27-25 scores, and the margin remained within three or fewer points throughout the second and third sets. Ferndale managed to pull ahead at the beginning of the fourth, but Meridian cut the Golden Eagles’ five-point lead to a tie at 20-20 before pulling ahead for the win.

“Our perseverance was amazing tonight. Even in the last set, we were down by a lot and then we still fought. We worked together, we communicated, we played together, we trusted each other,” junior Finnley Claeys said.

Coach Claeys said the team hit .246 as a team with 59 total digs and 11 total aces. Freshman Emry Claeys had seven kills while Brynn Neal put up four kills and two aces.

“Every set was very close,” she said. “Ferndale is a really good team. They’ve got some really strong hitters. We just kept our composure. We weren’t intimidated and we just fought for every single point. I’m just so proud of them. I’m so proud of the way they played, just as a complete team. Everybody contributed. I couldn’t be happier right now.”

Hoefer and Smith said the Trojans felt a sense of connection and normalcy as they brought their record to 2-1 in Ferndale.

“Our communication was great; everything was really good,” Hoefer said.

“Our team was really connected,” Smith added.

Despite their loss, the Golden Eagles put up some impressive numbers, Hoelzle said. Schneider hit for .500, and Semu’s .305 hitting percentage was notable as well. Ferndale setter Jamie Johnson recorded 61 assists, 11 digs and four aces.

“They did what we asked them to do, which was to show up and compete,” Hoelzle said. “The funny thing about this season is we don’t know anything about any of the other teams. We haven’t seen them during summer. Everyone has new rosters.”

Next up for the Trojans is Lynden at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. Ferndale will play Mount Baker, also at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.