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Mead moves into semifinals

The Mead volleyball team is one win away from playing for another state championship.

Lewis and Clark, meanwhile, will play for fourth/seventh Friday.

Click the tab below to read my unedited story.


By Greg Lee

Staff writer

KENNEWICK – Mead’s plan to vault back to the top of the 4A state volleyball heap and continue the Greater Spokane League’s stranglehold on the championship got off to a fast start Thursday.

The No. 1-ranked Panthers swept their first two opponents, cruising past outmanned Tahoma 25-15, 25-13, 25-12 and breezing by Olympia 25-9, 25-16, 25-12 at the Toyota Center.

Defending state champ Lewis and Clark recovered from a slow start in a first-round match, topping Edmonds-Woodway 26-28, 25-20, 25-21, 25-20 before running into a brick wall against Curtis, which stopped the Tigers 21-25, 25-15, 25-18, 25-13. In a loser-out match, LC fought back to down Kentwood 18-25, 25-15, 25-17, 25-20.

Mead (30-2) will take on Graham-Kapowsin (31-4) in the semifinals this afternoon at 3:30. In the other semifinal, Curtis (22-3) will take on Auburn Riverside (26-7).

LC (17-9) will take home a trophy. The Tigers take on Olympia (32-4) to determine fourth and seventh tonight at 8.

Mead was especially efficient its two victories, especially against Olympia.

The Panthers were inspired, managing a measure of revenge against Olympia, which snapped Mead’s 22-match state winning streak last year.

“You don’t forget that kind of stuff,” Mead coach Judy Kight said of the second-round loss to Olympia last year. “We have most of our team back and they remembered that (loss). They wanted to change their course this year.”

Mead’s not only the path to changing its course, the Panthers sent a statement Thursday.

Junior outside hitter Kuulei Zalopany battled the flu the past week, but she was back to her usually effective self. Against Olympia, she had nine kills, 16 digs and three blocks.

“We came out really strong and we were ready to play,” she said.

So what will Mead have to do to finish the job today?

“We’re going to have to play with HGP (heart, guts and passion),” Zalopany said. “We want the (title) trophy.”

Zalopany explained that HGP has been a longtime motto for tradition-rich Mead. She had plenty of help against Olympia. University of Southern California-bound Alexis Olgard had 13 kills, eight digs and six blocks, Kaely Kight had five aces, 11 digs and four blocks and setter Emma Barrington had 22 assists and 10 digs.

“We only have one day left and we’re playing our best,” Kight said.

Mead barely broke a sweat against Tahoma.

Tahoma couldn’t sustain an attack against Mead. Olgard led the Panthers with 14 kills, the majority of which were uncontested by the smaller Bears. She also had seven digs, five blocks and two aces. Teammate Mady Dahlstrom had six kills and 12 digs.

“I got to play everybody and everybody played well,” Kight said. “We just want to make sure that we’re rounded and getting a lot of contributions.”

Unlike its first-round match, LC started well against Curtis. After the Vikings evened the match up in the second set, they took control thereafter.

Janele Vogt led the Tigers with 15 kills. Shelby Grant had 21 digs and six kills.

In the elimination match, the Tigers dug deep and found something left against Kentwood.

“Expectations and goals are two different things,” LC coach Heather Jackson said. “We really expected to bring home some hardware. Their goal was to be in that championship match, so it was a bit disappointing. But they responded tremendously.”

Vogt and Mercedes Montoya led with eight kills apiece.

Against Edmond-Woodway, Vogt led LC with 16 kills and eight blocks.

After committing four service errors in the first set, the Tigers limited their service mistakes in the final three sets.

“It took us a while to get into the flow but also it’s 9 a.m. in the morning and the girls are used to playing 7 o’clock (p.m.) matches,” Jackson said. “It was just a matter of waking up, getting their bodies going and engaging. And we hadn’t seen this team before so it took us a while to get a feel for them. We just got into a better rhythm.”

 


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