By Justin Gimse
When the White River Hornets paid a visit to the Franklin Pierce Cardinals on Tuesday, Sept. 17, something was going to have to give. Both teams entered this early-season match with perfect records and if someone planned on keeping pace with the undefeated Fife Trojans in the 2A South Puget Sound League Mountain Division standings, they were going to have to step up their game.
It’s still early in the 15-game regular season for these SPSL teams but keeping up with the top of the pack is always going to be a goal. Considering that teams must then play through a full league tournament, followed by a district tournament and then hopefully a state tournament berth, it is these sort of matchups that hone a team into a better outfit.
In a game that matches basketball for hot streaks, the Cardinals weren’t going to be able to keep up with the Hornets on this night, as White River was able to pull away mid-game in all three sets to head back home with a 3-0 victory.
The first was all White River to begin with, as the Hornets jumped out to a 5-0 advantage. A short while later the lead had extended to 10-4. At this time, the Cardinals began to gain a little steam and the match was soon 12-9 White River and things were getting interesting. When the score reached 15-12 White River, the momentum stalled for the Cardinals. White River would outscore Franklin Pierce 10-4 to close out the first game 25-16.
It was a bit of a horse race for the second set. Both teams held the lead as they ran out to an 8-8 tie. It was then followed by 11-11 before White River made their move, racking up nine consecutive points to take a 20-11 advantage. Franklin Pierce would match White River’s five points to close out the match, but they would fall nine short of what they needed, falling 25-16 again.
Franklin Pierce put up another good fight to kick-off the third game. The teams fought tooth-and-nail, running the score to 12-12. Like the previous games, it was at this point when the Hornets hit the gas pedal. White River ran off five straight points to push their advantage to 15-12, and the Cardinals would get no closer. The Hornets took the third game and the match by a score of 25-16.
It won’t get any easier for Franklin Pierce (2-1 SPSL, 3-1 Overall) as the Cardinals will next host the undefeated Fife Trojans (3-0, 5-0) on Thursday, Sept. 21 at 7:15 p.m. A match on the road against cellar-dweller Evergreen (0-3, 0-3) on Monday, Sept. 25, should help the Cardinals get back on track.
The action in the 4A SPSL is about to heat up, as the nine teams have finished their non-league schedule and will no embark upon their league journeys. The top of the 4A SPSL is brutal, with Bellarmine (1-2), Curtis (5-0), Emerald Ridge (4-1) and Puyallup (4-1) all boasting stellar line-ups. All four teams should be there at the end of the regular season, jockeying for a league crown.
The Wilson Rams (3-0, 3-1) and Stadium Tigers (2-1, 3-2) look like they might give Bonney Lake (2-1, 3-1) a solid run for the 3A Pierce County League title. The surprise of the league so far has got to be the Lakes Lancers (3-0, 4-1). Solid competition at the top of the PCL would go a long way in getting these teams better-prepared to face a district tournament that has often ripped our city teams to ribbons. Look for a race to the finish.
Life Christian (3-1) has looked impressive in their non-league schedule and should be considered a favorite to capture the 2B Pacific title with a young, but talented, core returning.