The Ellensburg High School gym was alive Thursday night as the Bulldogs volleyball, back at full strength, took a decisive 3-1 victory (19-25, 25-22, 25-17, 25-15) over the Selah High School Vikings.

The win gives Ellensburg its fifth-consecutive Central Washington Athletic Conference district tittle.

The Bulldog student section was teeming with spirited fans, a warm welcome for middle hitter Payton Lyyski who was absent the last time these two teams met.

She came back with a chip on her shoulder, ending the match with 12 kills and a hitting percentage of .346.

“It was really tough on me missing the game last weekend. The time in Indianapolis is three hours ahead and my contest was the next day. I couldn’t fall asleep until the game was over because I needed to know that we pulled out that win,” Lyyski said.

Lyyski’s absence in Ellensburg’s 3-2 win over Selah on Oct. 28 for the league title forced the Bulldogs to move players around and find the combinations that worked. With her back, they were able to find their stride sooner.

“(Lyskii’s impact was) huge. It was nice having her back to be able to run our system like we should,” head coach Debbie Landrie said.

The Bulldogs and Vikings began the first set neck-and-neck. The teams tied twice before the Vikings took control, outscoring the Bulldogs, 25-19.

Both Landrie and Lyyski said after losing the first set, the Bulldogs were neither surprised nor discouraged. Landrie said that Selah has been one of their toughest opponents, but at the same time the Bulldogs are not a group that gets gives up easily.

“We beat them in five last week, we can do it again,” Lyyski said.

The second set was another heated exchange as the two teams tied 11 times, the last leaving the score, 21-21. A block from outside hitter Reaghan Naboychik put the Bulldogs back in the lead, which they never gave up.

The Bulldogs reigned over the last two sets, holding the lead throughout both. Landrie said that their ability to serve the ball was an important factor in the win.

The Bulldogs win propels them to the No. 1 seed in the 2A state bracket at Central Washington University on Nov. 15-16. Landrie said they won’t know who they play until Sunday.


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