Ferris, Prairie and Sumner escaped pool play with 3-0 match records.
No team, however, escaped unscathed.
There should be a wild scramble toward the championship match when the WIAA/Dairy Farmers of Washington State 4A volleyball championships resume this morning, with quarterfinals at the Arena.
Ferris and Prairie brought the best records to the 16-team tournament and could meet in tonight’s final. But both teams took unaccustomed lumps during Friday’s pool play.
Ferris hadn’t lost a game since the mid-October Crossover Classic, and hadn’t dropped one that counted since a Sept. 19 Greater Spokane League loss to Mead. Yet 1996 State AAA champion Bethel spanked the Saxons in the second game of an evening match won by Ferris 15-4, 3-15, 15-5.
“I think it was really good for us to have to work for that last one,” said Ferris coach Stacey Ward.
Prairie, the District 1/4 champion and last year’s runner-up here to Bethel, had dropped two games all year before Friday. Make that four now, as Prairie lost games to Puyallup and Gig Harbor before rallying for match wins.
“Our goal is obviously to be one (place) better than we were last year,” said Prairie coach Chelinda Dettorre.
Sumner was the day’s most pleasant surprise. The Spartans, fourth-place finishers in District 3, swept their pool despite losing the first game in each match. In Sumner’s first match, against Cascade (Everett), the Spartans lost the first game and trailed the second 11-8 before rebounding.
Today’s 10 a.m. quarterfinals are: Prairie vs. Bothell, Auburn Riverside vs. Auburn, Ferris vs. Sehome and Sumner vs. Gig Harbor. Semifinals follow at 11:30. Placing matches begin at 4:30 p.m.; the championship is at 9.
Competitive play ruled on the first day, as 14 of the 24 best-of-3 matches needed a third game.
No pool was more competitive than Pool D, where Lewis and Clark, Auburn Riverside and Sehome finished with 2-1 records to force a tiebreaker.
LC won the coin flip but lost both rally-scoring games after leading Auburn Riverside 9-5 and Sehome 13-12.
LC’s day was a series of ups and downs, beginning with the loss of all-leaguer Carlin Oeljen. The 5-foot-11 middle hitter was declared academically ineligible this week.
LC coach Buzzie Welch, whose motivational speeches to his team often focus on character, said he supported the school’s decision. Welch had offered to tutor Oeljen in the subject, but was assured by the senior that the matter was under control.
The Tigers rotated Erin Naipo to the middle and scrapped their way to a 2-0 pool-play record before losing a night match to District 3 champion Auburn Riverside.
All four district champs advanced to today’s quarterfinals, including Bothell, which overcame Cascade (Everett) 15-12, 12-15, 15-13 at night to clinch a spot and negate another pool tiebreaker.
Bethel missed a shot to repeat as champ when it dropped the night match to Ferris while Auburn, 2-1 in the same pool, defeated Inglemoor in three games.
Ferris, in the hunt for its first title after three top-eight finishes under Ward, played a sluggish 15-13, 15-11 morning match with Auburn before pounding away at Inglemoor.
“The whole week we’ve talked about enjoying the experience,” Ward said. “Don’t go into it thinking you have to win the whole thing.”
Janelle Morrisette averaged 26 assists per match, Elissa Ross and Missy Blackshire averaged more than seven kills, and Amy George and Julie Weatherred were tops in digs for the Saxons.
The day’s top match was Prairie fighting back to top Gig Harbor 4-15, 15-5, 17-15. Gig Harbor entered the match as the last team with a shot at a 6-0 record in games.
“The kids are believing it has to be a team effort,” said Dettorre, whose daughter, Andrea, is the team’s setter. Dettorre’s niece, Cheyanne Mortek, is a top hitter with fellow senior Katrina Nelson. “It doesn’t have to be one person all the time.”
Mead, third place at state last year, dropped its first two matches and played for pride at night because Prairie and Gig Harbor had already clinched quarterfinal spots.
The Panthers ended their season with a 15-7, 15-11 win over Rogers (Puyallup). The Panthers lineup is dominated by seniors.
Pasco, the other Region IV representative, went 1-2 and was eliminated.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Photos (1 color)
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: FINAL 8 These are the 4A teams that will be playing in the quarterfinal matches beginning today at 10 a.m. in the Arena. Ferris Bothell Auburn Prairie Auburn Riverside Gig Harbor Sumner Sehome
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