Tulelake volleyball dropped their first set of the night to visiting Big Valley (6-7, 6-5 Evergreen), but swept the next six sets to win both matches of Tuesday’s senior night doubleheader.

Tulelake (16-3, 12-0) entered the night having already clinched their seventh Evergreen League championship. The pair of senior night wins made sure the Honkers closed out league play undefeated.

“It feels like a great accomplishment,” said Yuleidy Gonzalez, one of the seniors honored. “Last year. I feel like because of COVID, we didn't have anything.”

Tulelake 3, Big Valley 1

The Honkers put themselves in a hole early in losing the first set 22-25 to the Cardinals. Staunton attributed the set loss to a slow start and an abnormal amount of service errors while the Honkers sited in their serves in front of a packed gym.

“I think that we missed 20 first serves in the first game,” Staunton said. “There was a lot of nerves. We normally don't have a big crowd and there's family watching and the students watching so there was a bunch of nerves that contributed to us dropping that first set.”

Tulelake managed to settle down but struggled out of the gate early in set two, eventually clawing back to tie the game at 10 after Big Valley mishandled a serve from Tulelake’s Gonzalez. The Honkers would then take a 12-11 lead off a Biridiana Mora kill.

Mora followed up her kill with two straight service aces. It was all Honkers from there on as serving success pulled the team to a 25-15 set win. Tulelake’s Maria Perez served up three straight aces to close the frame. She had 7 aces total over the course of the match.

In set three, the Honkers pulled away briefly — building a 23-14 lead — but had to fend off a Big Valley run late when the Cardinals began to find success at the service line. Tulelake however shut the door on a Makenzie Perez kill.

Makenzie Perez had 14 kills in the first match, second only to Gonzalez, who put up 15.

Tulelake cruised to victory in the final frame, building a large lead while junior Anixa Arellano had a strong performance at the service line. The Honkers took the set 25-16 and the match.

“We've been really working on picking up scrap from other teams,” Staunton said. “In our league, you kind of have to expect that. So they were covering the court pretty well and finding the holes.”

Tulelake 3, Big Valley 0

Tulelake struggled to separate from Big Valley in the first frame. When they were serving well, the Honkers jumped out to a few points cushion, but the Cardinals would make up ground with every error. Both Mora and Arellano made their presence felt at the net with multiple kills, powering Tulelake to a 25-20 win.

Staunton noted that her outside hitters, like Gonzalez and Arellano, were attacking hard through both the games, something that gives the whole team energy to feed off of.

Both squads spent much of the second set trading the lead. Midway through the set, Big Valley took a 14-13 lead, eliciting a timeout from the Tule bench. A series of Big Valley hitting errors returned the lead to Tulelake, one they wouldn’t lose even when the Cardinals made another late run. Tulelake won the set 25-22.

In the final set of the night, Big Valley jumped out to an early five-point lead and managed to keep the Honkers at arms length for a time. However, strong play from multiple members of the Tulelake frontline, allowed the Honkers to close the gap.

Tulelake finally tied the game at 18 and took the lead when the Cardinals mishit a Maritza Chavolla serve. An electric kill from Arellano — set up by Chavolla — put the Honkers up 21-18. Chavolla served out the rest of the set that Tulelake won 25-18

Chavolla, the team’s freshman setter, put up video game numbers over both games. She supplied 40 assists in the first match and followed up with 25 in the second.

The Honkers will start the state playoffs next week and Staunton is hoping they’ll be ranked high enough to get host their first-round match.

She added that they’ll be missing Gonzalez and junior libero Analeisa Greenwood for the first playoff game, so the Honkers will have to make some “huge adjustments” — which they’ll get to test out in their final game of the regular season at Lakeview on Thursday.