Victory was twice nice for the Klamath Union volleyball team Saturday.
Not only did the Pelicans win their first Basin’s Best championship since 2003, but they also added a rare win over Henley, something KU did in the semifinals Saturday at the Hornets Nest.
“It has been the longest time since we beat Henley alone. It’s been awhile,” KU senior libero Ashlee Nielsen said after the Pelicans beat Mazama, 25-16, 25-19, in the championship match and deny Mazama its second Basin’s Best title.
“I haven’t played on a KU team with this much chemistry, this much emotion, this much intensity,” Nielsen said after the Pelicans went 9-2 in its sets Saturday to not only win the title, but play in the finals for a 12th time.
Mazama, meanwhile, was in the finals for the fifth time in tournament history, and first since the Vikings won the 2013 championship.
The Vikes went 7-3 in their sets during pool and bracket play in the oldest volleyball tournament in the Klamath Basin.
Ironically, when Mazama won its lone title, the Vikings beat Klamath Union in the finals.
“I just got this team in the spring,” KU coach Faryn Case said of a vastly improved Pelican volleyball squad.
“It’s easy for me when I have a group of girls with such a great work ethic. They listen, are willing to learn and adjust when we want them to,” Case, who last year was an assistant at Oregon Tech, said.
“Coming in as a new coach helps, and I have the mentality that we can beat anybody,” she said, and added her year as an OIT assistant helped her become a better coach.
“What I like is that these girls believe in each other,” Case said. “There is no disconnect with attitude.”
That became obvious after KU opened up a quick lead in the final set, and then struggled to find its serves, allow Mazama to slip back into the contest before the Pelicans pulled away and then notch the final three points to secure its win.
“We’re not as big as some teams, but played through it and proved how much chemistry we have on the court,” Nielsen said.
■ Both Klamath Union and Mazama finished with 5-1 pool play records. The Henley junior varsity was 4-2, Henley varsity 3-3, Lost River 1-5 and Chiloquin 0-6.
■ KU beat the Henley varsity in the tournament semifinals, and Mazama beat the Henley JV.
■ In addition to its 2003 title, KU had reached the Basin’s Best finals in the 1992, 1998, 200, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2013, 2014 and 2017.
■ In addition to its 2013 championship and runner-up finish this year, Mazama also previously made the finals in 1993, 1994 and 2006.
■ Former Henley coach Chuck Shannon, who founded the Basin’s Best tournament, was at the Hornets Nest during the semifinals and finals.