Deep team among favorites
If the Mt. Spokane volleyball team challenges for a state championship, it will be because of something that’s been the Wildcats’ strength all season.
“We’ve got depth,” Mt. Spokane coach John Reid said. “There’s not just one player that a team has to focus on.”
The Wildcats are making a third consecutive trip to the State 3A tournament, which begins Friday at the Toyota Center in Kennewick. The constant element in Mt. Spokane’s rise has been senior setter Mary Konis, a three-year starter.
In Mt. Spokane’s 6-2 system, Konis and junior Kenzie Reid, the other setter, each have averaged 12 assists per match. The favorite objects for the setters in the Wildcats’ diverse attack are sophomore outside hitters Annie Arnzen and Ixchelle Oleson. Arnzen averages a team-high nine kills per match and Oleson chips in seven.
Although the setters spread the offense around, the balance often keeps the coach on the edge of his seat.
“It can be frustrating at times, because you don’t know who’s going to step up,” Reid said.
Mt. Spokane will be among the contenders for the state title. In the Seattle Times’ rankings, the Wildcats are ranked first in 3A. In the coaches’ poll, they’re third behind Camas and Seattle Prep, which knocked off previously top-ranked Bishop Blanchet last weekend.
The Wildcats would like to make it two straight state titles for the Greater Spokane League. Shadle Park surprised by taking the title last year.
“We’re hoping to repeat what they (Shadle Park) did,” Reid said. “We have so much more experience going into state than last year. They know what it takes to be there now. It’s not an unknown factor.”
2A: Pullman and West Valley figure to be trophy contenders when the tourney begins Friday in Kennewick. Pullman’s Greyhounds took fourth last year and WV’s Eagles were fifth.
Pullman’s lineup from a year ago is back intact. First-year Greyhounds coach Dave Weitz hopes his team focuses on playing each match, not the teams it is playing.
“If our girls play our game and don’t care who they’re playing against, we’ll be in the running for a state title,” Weitz said.
Colville was the third qualifier from the Great Northern League.
1A: Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls) returns to state, which begins today at the Yakima SunDome. The Eagles went 1-2 at state last year.
Joining Lakeside at state is Freeman.
2B: Last year, Colfax dropped down from 1A where it had won four straight state titles and made a seamless transition, capturing the state title.
With four starters back, Colfax will be in the hunt for an eighth state title this decade when the tourney begins Friday at the SunDome. Northwest Christian opens against Tekoa-Oakesdale. Reardan is also in the field.
1B: LaCrosse-Washtucna, with four starters back from a year ago, will be out to defend its state title beginning Friday at the SunDome. The stiffest challenge could come from St. John-Endicott, which took fifth a year ago.
St. John-Endicott went 4-1 against LaCrosse-Washtucna this year. Also in the field are Sprague-Harrington, Northport, Colton, and Almira/Coulee-Hartline.
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