November 13, 2011 in Sports

Mt. Spokane finishes 4th at State 3A volleyball tournament

Grant Clark Special to The Spokesman-Review
 

Mt. Spokane volleyball coach Dave Whitehead exited the locker rooms at Saint Martin’s University in Lacey, Wash., with the fourth-place trophy in hand and immediately let out a sigh.

“We just didn’t have any energy today,” said Whitehead as he handed off the trophy to an assistant coach. “We’ve had times like that this season. When we are on, we are tough to beat. Today wasn’t our day.”

The Wildcats kicked off Saturday with hopes of a State 3A championship, but dropped both their matches and had to settle for the fourth-place trophy for a second consecutive year.

“I couldn’t be more proud of this team, though,” Whitehead said. “We had some rough patches during the season, but I am very pleased with how we did. Not a lot of teams have done what we’ve done the last two years.”

The Wildcats (23-8) fell to Seattle Prep, which knocked off Mt. Spokane in last year’s quarterfinals, in the third-fourth place consolation round.

Seattle Prep, led by University of Arizona-bound Olivia Magill, won 25-15, 25-23, 21-25, 25-23.

Kennadie Clute paced the Wildcats with 18 kills and nine digs, while Ixchelle Oleson registered 13 kills and 11 digs in the loss.

Mt. Spokane also got 24 assists from Paiton Larson.

The Wildcats lost in the semifinals to Eastside Catholic, 25-22, 27-25, 25-21.

“We just came out kind of flat against Eastside Catholic,” Whitehead said. “I’m not really sure why. We made some crucial errors with our serves and they made some runs we weren’t able to recover from.”

Clute had a team-high 15 kills against the Crusaders and Larson had 24 assists.

Mt. Spokane graduates five seniors – Oleson, Marissa Verduci, Brooke Ranieri, Cherice Willis and Juanita Dukes – from its roster, but returns a solid core of players, including Clute and Larson.

“The seniors have been fantastic. They’ve brought so much to this program,” Whitehead said. “It’s tough to see them go, but we should be able to continue to be successful next season with the players we have coming back.”

4A: For the first time since 1998 Mead left the state tournament without taking home a trophy.

The Panthers (25-5) lost in the consolation round to Puyallup, 25-19, 16-25, 25-10, 23-25, 13-15.

Hannah Zalopany had a dominating performance in the loss, registering 24 kills, 12 digs and six blocks.

Setter Jonni Dorr chipped in 30 assists and five digs in the defeat.

The Panthers had placed at state every year since 1999 – winning seven championships, including five straight between 2003 and 2007. The Panthers also captured the state crown in 1999 and 2009.

Expectations, however, should again be high next year for Mead, which returns all 12 players on a roster that features 11 juniors and a sophomore.

Central Valley also came up a match short of placing, but while Mead has been a long-time staple at the state tournament, the Bears were making their inaugural appearance in the tournament.

The Bears lost in the consolation bracket to Newport of Bellevue, 21-25, 25-16, 13-25, 22-25.

Central Valley finished its season with a record of 21-9.

2A: Pullman won the first two sets against Anacortes in the game for fifth and sixth places but then dropped the final three, losing the fifth set 16-14 at Evergreen State College in Olympia. Pullman defeated North Kitsap in three sets earlier in the day.

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