KENNEWICK – The Greater Spokane League showed the rest of the state what outstanding talent it has Saturday, garnering a second- and third-place trophy at the WIAA state volleyball tournament at the Toyota Center.
Mead tried to bounce back after a second-place finish last season to Auburn Riverside in Class 4A.
But the Panthers couldn’t do it Saturday night, as the Ravens rallied to win 3-2 (25-23, 25-27, 21-25, 25-17, 15-5).
Meanwhile, Mt. Spokane bounced back from a disappointing Class 3A semifinal loss to Mercer Island to beat Eastside Catholic 3-0 (25-16, 25-19, 25-13) for the third-place trophy.
Mead coach Shawn Wilson had admitted Friday that his Panthers wanted another shot at the Ravens after last year’s disappointing loss in the finals.
It looked good for the Panthers early on.
After dropping the first set, they came back to win the next two.
“We served and passed better (In those two sets),” said Mead senior outside hitter Maddie Lee. “And the games we won, we blocked better.”
But Auburn Riverside is a veteran team that knows what to do.
St that point, Ravens coach Chris Leverenz said her team didn’t panic.
“I said we’d been here before,” she said. “We were at a tournament earlier this year in Las Vegas and had to rally a couple of times.”
Suddenly, the Ravens attacked harder, especially as the Panthers began to slow.
“We had ‘em,” said Wilson. “I think we kind of ran out of energy at the end. They are really so much taller than us. I think we did a good job against them. But they started to pressure us a bit late in the match.”
Mead senior Maddie Lee agreed.
“I think we just started getting our shot down too low on offense, and it caused us to be timid,” said Lee. “And that caused us to not play our game.”
The Ravens forced a deciding Game 5, and they jumped out to a 9-3 lead.
The Panthers couldn’t come back, as they forced bad shots, and Auburn Riverside took the decider 15-5.
“My team is really cohesive,” said Leverenz. “They play so well together.”
They did on Saturday night, anyway.
“Today, hats off to them,” said Wilson. “They’re a great team. It’s hard to be happy because we wanted to win the title. But we are No. 2. We were in the championship.”
Lee finished the title match with 22 kills, while Lindsey Russell added 63 assists at setter. Both players made the all-tournament team, as chosen by the media.
McKenna Russell added 25 digs for the Panthers.
Senior outside hitter Calley Heilborn led the Ravens with 27 kills and 18 digs. She was named the Class 4A tournament MVP.
Teammate Ciera Zimmerman, who had 52 assists in the title match at setter, also made the all-tournament team.
Kate Pestova added 13 kills and 22 digs for the Ravens.
Mead advanced to the finals earlier Saturday after sweeping Curtis 3-0 (25-18, 29-27, 25-20).
Lee led the way with 17 kills and 15 digs, while Lyndsey Russell had 45 assists.
Sophomore Kendall Buries added 4 blocks.
The Wildcats lost a heartbreaker to Mercer Island in the semifinals, falling 3-1 (25-11, 30-28, 11-25, 27-25).
In 2016, Mt. Spokane beat Mercer Island 3-2 in the semifinals to advance to the state title match.
This time, with Kelly Behrbaum’s 15 kills, the Islanders returned the favor.
Senior outside hitter Miahna Waters had an outstanding game for the Wildcats, with 17 kills and 16 digs. But Mt. Spokane also suffered from too many missed hits.
“We just had too many service errors,” said Mt. Spokane coach Dave Whitehead. “And Mercer Island changed offenses on us. They usually run a 6-2, but they changed to a 5-1. It took some time for us to adapt.”
The Wildcats came out slow, digging a 12-5 hole they could never get out of in Game 1.
The killer might have been losing the second game after holding a 21-16 lead. The Islanders rallied to win 30-28.
“We just couldn’t finish that second game,” said Whitehead, whose team finishes with a 23-5 record.
But the Wildcats still had some fight, and led by Waters and Ama – with 2 kills each – Mt. Spokane reeled off 12 unanswered points to win Game 3.
Waters had a monster Game 5, with seven kills. But Mercer Island’s front line was too much in the end.
By the time the Wildcats had to play Eastside Catholic, they wasted little time in putting them away.
“Our goal was to win our last game of the season,” said Whitehead.
Waters and Milana Ama each had 13 kills in the match.
For Waters, it was her final game as a Mt. Spokane Wildcat. She goes to Southern Utah next year to play in the Big Sky Conference.
“My best friends are on this team,” she said, surveying the squad on the arena floor afterwards. “For three or four months, we’ve spent so much time together, coming together.”
Capital of Olympia beat Mercer Island 3-1 to take the 3A title Saturday night.
Waters made the all-tournament team, as did setter Katie Maher.
East Valley beat North Kitsap 27-25, 18-25, 25-18, 25-23 and lost to Liberty (Issaquah) 25-16, 23-25, 25-16, 25-19 in the consolation bracket to finish in eighth place at Saint Martin’s University in Lacey.
Pullman lost to Sehome 18-25, 25-17, 25-21, 16-25, 15-7 in the consolation bracket and was eliminated.
Freeman beat Northeast A rival Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls) 14-25, 25-15, 25-21, 20-25, 15-5 and lost to Naches Valley 25-18, 25-12, 25-17 to finish in eighth place at the SunDome in Yakima. Lakeside was eliminated after losing to the Scotties.