The Bellarmine Prep Lions won all four of their matches at the district volleyball tournament – including a 3-1 win over Olympia in the finals to avenge a loss the week before in the Narrows League finals – to claim the title and head into the state tournament with some serious momentum.
The Lions began their run with a convincing 25-22, 25-17, 25-7 win over Kent-Meridian in the first round on Nov. 4, using a combination of good passing, finishing and defense to wear down the Royals.
Courtney Schwan helped the Lions build early momentum with two thunderous spikes, and two aces by Kelsie May helped Bellarmine to a 16-8 lead. The Royals came back to within 16-15 and kept it close the rest of the set, but kills by Kali Johnson and Hallie Wurst helped the Lions take the first set.
“It was more of an unknown for us…we didn’t really know what they were going to be like,” said Bellarmine coach Jody DeGroot. “We started out a little bit nervous, and then we finally decided to play volleyball.”
Schwan and Katherine Joyce kept up the offensive pressure as the Lions took a 20-10 lead in the second set, as the two would tally a team-high 11 kills apiece.
“Courtney definitely knows where to place the ball,” DeGroot said. “She has lots of shots, and that’s helpful for us. She’s a very powerful player.”
It was more of the same in the third set, as Schwan and Joyce led the Lions to a 17-6 lead, and Joyce combined with Katy DeGroot – who also tallied a team-high 16 assists – to end the match with a devastating block. Julia Wright led the defensive effort with 12 digs while May tallied 11 assists.
“We worked a lot on hitting our marks, and our passing was above average for us, so I think that really helped our game,” DeGroot said. “Because then you can get it to the hitters, and that’s all that matters.”
The Lions prevailed in five sets over Curtis later that evening, and again over Puyallup on Nov. 5 to help set up the rematch against Olympia. Their victory in the finals sets up the Lions with a match against Skyline in the first round of the state tournament on Nov. 11 at 5:15 p.m. at Saint Martin’s University.
“I really like the way the girls are training,” DeGroot said. “I think we all agreed that we got a little better this week, and that’s a really good thing to see, especially for the postseason.”
By Jeremy Helling
LIFE CHRISTIAN OVERCOMES LOSS TO ADVANCE
Despite suffering a big loss to third-ranked Kings in the second round of the 1A Tri-District tournament, Life Christian rebounded on Nov. 5 to beat Bellevue Christian 3-1 and punch their ticket to the state tournament.
The Eagles started the tournament with a convincing three-set sweep of University Prep behind seven kills and 16 digs from Grace Bouffiou and eight kills, two aces and three blocks from Johnnise Moore.
“We had some great practices leading up to this, and the girls are doing everything we ask of them,” said Life Christian coach Tracy King.
Maddy Long’s strong serving helped the Eagles jump out to an 11-2 lead in the first set, as the freshman outside hitter finished with six aces, six kills and 11 digs. The Eagles were never seriously threatened, as seemingly everyone contributed in the 25-10, 25-15, 25-9 victory.
“Everybody played really well,” Moore said. “I know I was nervous, we were probably all nervous, but we played actually pretty well.”
Setter Carly Normandeau had 15 assists to go along with four kills and 11 digs, while senior Anna Collins chipped in with 17 digs.
“Tonight she passed amazingly,” King said of Collins. “I don’t think she had an error defensively. She has perfect passing every time.”
The Eagles were humbled by Kings later in the evening, as the Knights made quick work of Life Christian in their 25-8, 25-5, 25-3 win.
“Kings hits hard,” King said. “They all go up to hit. They’re just coached very well.”
After dropping the first set 18-25 to Bellevue Christian on Nov. 5, the Eagles came back to win the next three 25-22, 25-19, 25-19 in a match that King said was the best her team had played all season.
Moore tallied 16 kills and Bouffiou added 11 to go along with 36 digs. Collins amassed 46 digs, Normandeau had 22 assists, three aces and five kills, and Long added four kills and 28 digs in the match that King called the best her team has played all season.
With the win, the Eagles advance to play Castle Rock at 8 a.m. on Nov. 11 at the Yakima SunDome in the first round of the 1A state tournament.
RAMS’ TOUGH LOSS ENDS SEASON
The Wilson Rams suffered a tough five-set loss to Hudson’s Bay on Nov. 5, at the 3A district tournament to end their hopes of securing a state playoff berth.
The Rams lost to Enumclaw 3-1 in the first round on Nov. 4, despite battling back to win the second set behind solid play from Miranda Tennison, Alexis Slater and Tia Briggs. Slater and Tennison combined for a block late in the set to give the Rams an 18-17 lead, and Briggs’ two kills later in the set – plus a block for the final point – gave Wilson the 25-22 win. Tennison and Slater tied with a team-high seven kills apiece, while Emery Cassaday had 23 digs and setter Riley Jornlin added 21 assists.
“Our passing was a little off, but (Jornlin) did the best she could to get the ball where it needed to go,” said Wilson coach Jenna Elliott. “We focus a lot on passing. We know that our passing and serving are what’s going to win us the game.”
Enumclaw won the final two sets 25-16, 25-12 to set up Wilson with the loser-out match against Hudson’s Bay.
“We had a good start, we just didn’t have a good finish,” Elliott said of the first-round match. “A lot of that comes with experience, we have a young group. A few of them it’s there first time to districts, so they got to see the level (of competition).”
Slater had 14 kills while Tennison had nine kills and 18 digs against Hudson’s Bay, while Jornlin added 34 assists and Cassaday tallied 20 digs, but the Rams fell 25-12, 24-26, 25-11, 29-31, 15-13 to end their season.