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Pullman captures state title

Pullman made it much harder than it had to be, but the Greyhounds claimed the State 2A volleyball championship.

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By Greg Lee

Staff writer

KENNEWICK – A funny thing happened to the Pullman volleyball team on its way to a sweep in the State 2A championship match Saturday.

Archbishop Murphy refused to be swept. In fact, the Wildcats extended the final to five sets before the Greyhounds finished what they had started at the Toyota Center.

A kill from rightside hitter Stephanie Logan on match point sprung a Greyhounds celebration loose that had been bottled up for two sets.

“It was crazy. It was all adrenaline,” Logan said of her deciding kill. “I learned a long time ago playing (club) for Dave (Weitz, Pullman’s coach) when I was 12 years old that no matter the score you swing as hard as you can.”

Pullman, which took fourth last year, captured its first state title since 2005. Pullman wasn’t the lone Great Northern League team to earn a state trophy. West Valley (seventh) and Colville (eighth) made it three for three for the GNL.

Weitz took over this year as head coach at Pullman, and he made it clear from the outset the Greyhounds were playing for nothing less than a state championship.

Still, when it had dawned on Weitz what his team had accomplished, he struggled to find the words to describe how he was feeling. It didn’t take long for Weitz to wax well about his team, especially his four seniors – Jordan Levenseller, Danielle Hodge, Katie Guettinger and Cayley Byrne.

“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “I don’t know what to say. It’s all about them.”

Two of the juniors – Logan and Shelby Cheslek – emphasized the state title was for the seniors.

“Our seniors were really the key to pulling this all together,” Cheslek said.

“The four seniors have gone through a lot,” Weitz said. “It’s going to be tough to replace them.”

Before the Greyhounds could celebrate, though, they had to fend off some taut moments. Especially in the middle two sets.

“They got tight,” Weitz said. “But in the end, they went out there to play to win. It went longer than I wanted it to go – by two games. This team came together and they played for each other the whole way through. That’s what it’s all about right there.”

When Hodge, who had a team-high 17 kills, put away the winner to end the second set, it appeared a state title was inevitable.

But Archbishop Murphy dug in, clawing for every point over the next two sets.

“Archbishop Murphy played great defense. They were scrappy,” Weitz said. “We felt like if we played our game we’d be fine. The first two games we played our game and the last game we played our game. The middle two we were out there trying not to lose. We just weren’t aggressive and we’re a very aggressive team.”

Pullman returned to form in the fifth set.

“We weren’t getting the swings that we usually do,” Logan said. “Our defense was good, but our offense was struggling a little bit.”

Cheslek knew Pullman would regain control.

“We really wanted it and we pulled through in the fifth game and that’s all that matters,” Cheslek said.

Cheslek thinks Pullman can win again next year.

In the semifinals, Pullman took fought off a game Black Hills.

Melissa Volmer had a kill to decide the first set for the Greyhounds.

Then after Black Hills took a 21-20 lead in the third set, Pullman fought back to tie it at 24-24. Match point came on a kill from Logan.

Cheslek led with 12 kills and seven blocks while Logan had 10 kills and four blocks.


Greg Lee
Greg Lee joined The Spokesman-Review in 1984. He currently is a prep reporter covering Eastern Washington and North Idaho schools.

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