Like the regular season, last weekend’s state volleyball tournament was an indescribable experience for three East Valley High seniors.
The Knights went from second place in the Frontier League, with their first winning record in five years, to upset district champions over unbeaten league winner Clarkston. It earned them participation in the 16-team Tacoma event.
“I’d been thinking about state all summer, when I went to a couple camps,” said Anji Blindauer, a two-year starting outside hitter for the Knight volleyball team and a javelin thrower in track. “When it finally came true it was like, ‘Wow, we made it.”’
Added middle hitter Farrah Parsley, a three-year varsity volleyball and basketball player, “It was an overwhelming feeling, knowing we were good enough.”
Fellow middle hitter Angela Overdorff said that unless a person plays a sport, it is difficult to explain the feeling of qualifying for state.
“Others don’t realize how hard you work to get there,” she said.
The Knights won one of three matches and failed to advance to the second day of AA competition, but it wasn’t for lack of ability.
They lost to eventual fourth-place Selah and sixth-place Seattle Prep by the barest of margins.
The nine-point total, respective 16-14, 15-13 and 15-13, 15-12 scores, came following a three-set victory over Evergreen-Seattle and offered indication that the Knights belonged. Parsley led the team with 20 kills in three games.
The three seniors agreed that the team could have played even better.
“We know we were not the first-place team,” said Overdorff. “But I feel if we had played 100 percent, even if we lost all three, I would have felt better.”
Overdorff, a three-sport athlete who has also been a member of two softball state qualifiers and until recently was a competitive rifle marksman, nearly didn’t get to make the trip.
The team kills leader in half their games broke her left elbow a week before district, tripping and falling over a basketball while practicing in open gym.
“I have a brace I wear for it,” she said, “and the best way to heal it is with movement.”
It almost didn’t happen for Parsley, either. Another of the kills leaders, she twisted a knee two days after Overdorff’s accident.
“It wasn’t as bad as it looked,” she said, although she spent time in a cast and on crutches. “It gets sore a bit.”
Blindauer took up the slack at outside hitter in district, leading the team in kills.
“The burden was on me, but that was cool,” she said.
They cited East Valley’s togetherness as the reason for its volleyball success.
“We were more of a team this year, always doing things together,” said Overdorff.
Parsley said that in all sports, bonding is essential but that it can be a struggle to accomplish. Not with this team, which enjoyed each other’s company.
“We all wanted to do things together so we could go to state,” said Blindauer.
Go to state they did.
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