The Philomath High School volleyball team played its way into the Class 4A state playoffs Tuesday night with a 25-20, 25-22, 25-17 victory over Seaside.

The Warriors (14-10) now advance to Saturday’s first round as the No. 10 seed and will play at seventh-seeded Corbett (17-4), which won the Tri-Valley Conference crown with a 10-0 record. The winner of that match will earn a spot in next week’s 4A tournament at Forest Grove.

Philomath had superior athletes on the floor in the win over Seaside, but stubbed its toe at times to give Seaside opportunities to score points. Warriors coach Denee Newton said it comes down to what she keeps on the whiteboard in practice: “If we’re not loud, we’re losing.”

Communication — it’s a part of the game that Newton is stressing with her players as the Warriors prepare for their first-round match.

“One of the biggest issues we have moving forward is their communication,” Newton said. “It just vanishes from time to time and we get stuck in these rotations. It’s really strange and we ask a lot of questions about where it goes and nobody really knows.”

Philomath vaulted out to a 7-0 lead in the opening set and it appeared that fans could be in for one of those matches that finishes in less than an hour. Instead, Seaside took advantage of cracks in Philomath’s system and cut its deficit to 13-8 at one point.

The Warriors later led 22-10 only to see the Seagulls make another run and get to within 24-20. Finally, senior Joelle Berger closed out the set with a kill and a 1-0 lead.

“There are certain players that are super vocal all the time and it never stops and there are some that get really quiet,” Newton said about the communication piece. “We get into these little tight situations because we’re not talking to each other out there.”

In the second set, Seaside stayed competitive the whole way. The Warriors trailed 5-1 early and later 7-3 before regaining their composure. In fact, Philomath took a 12-9 lead during a Berger serving run but the Seagulls again found ways to launch a counteroffensive. Seaside led 16-13 at one point.

Late in the set, Seaside took a 21-20 lead only to see Philomath finish strong. Senior Megan Harper’s block tied it and then Berger served an ace for a 22-21 lead. Philomath scored the set’s final three points on senior Emma Pankalla’s soft touch on point 23, a Seaside hit into the net for point 24 and a Pankalla hit for point 25.

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In the third set, Seaside won the first point but then Philomath took over. Pankalla hit for a point to tie it and then served seven straight points as the Warriors sent a message that the evening would soon be over for the visiting Seagulls. The team celebrated its victory when the final point was scored on a Pankalla hit.

Pankalla had a team-high nine kills for the Warriors while Berger, freshman Abigail Brown and sophomore Sage Kramer each had six. Also at the net, Brown and senior Megan Harper each had three blocks. At the service line, junior Claire Skinkis had three aces.

Philomath 3, Seaside 0

Tuesday at Philomath

SEASIDE (8-15)           20  22  17

PHILOMATH (14-10)     25  25  25

Kills—Emma Pankalla 9. Service Points—Emma Pankalla 14. Aces—Claire Skinkis 3. Blocks—Abigail Brown 3, Megan Harper 3.

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