Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Mead makes short work of young Tigers

On a night when, based on first-match outcomes, Greater Spokane League volleyball looks suspiciously like it could duplicate last year’s final standings, the Mead juggernaut rolled on.

Panthers players began tentatively during what would ultimately be an easy 25-16, 25-13, 25-17 romp past last year’s fifth-place finisher and regional qualifier Lewis and Clark.

But once Mead got into the swing of things, young LC didn’t stand a chance, particularly after junior outside hitter Nicole Solum served 11 consecutive points to begin game two.

“It’s tough to open with the state champs when you start two juniors, three sophomores and a freshman,” said Tigers coach Julie Yearout. “(LC’s players) are young and got more tense. But we’ll get better.”

All of last year’s upper-division teams, including the defending league- and state-champion Panthers, won handily, six of the matches finishing in sweeps.

In other matches, last year’s league runner-up and state qualifier University toppled East Valley, 25-16, 25-18, 25-11. Co-third place finishers Mt. Spokane and Ferris breezed, the Wildcats 25-17, 25-15, 25-15 over North Central and Saxons 25-12, 25-13, 25-16 in Clarkston.

District playoff teams Shadle Park, a regional qualifier, and Gonzaga Prep, which tied for sixth place last season, also won in three games. The Highlanders turned back Central Valley 25-11, 25-6, 25-16 and Bullpups topped Cheney 25-7, 25-9, 25-16.

In the night’s most thrilling match, West Valley, which finished eighth last year and was the 3A district champion and top regional qualifier, defeated Rogers in four games, all three of its wins by 25-22 scores.

Host Mead trailed 5-2 during the early stages of game one. But then, the Panthers began hitting on all cylinders.

Kills came from everywhere, from either side – at the net and from the back row as seven different Panthers recorded them. The team caught up at 8, then broke a 10-all tie with a 7-1 run. Mead finished off the game with an 8-5 advantage as senior tri-captain Debra DeFelice ended it with back-to-back kills.

“We were a little tight until halfway through the first game, then we loosened up and started enjoying it,” said Mead coach Judy Kight.

Solum’s serves in game two included four aces. Two more kills each by DeFelice and Megan Thigpen put the visitors on their heels. It was a jolt from which LC never recovered. Mead improved its lead to 24-8 before a late LC rally.

“I don’t know, I was just back there listening to my coaches and having fun,” said Solum. “We just kept building and building off of it. It was a good run.”

Mead, continuing its strong night-long back-row play, went on another run to lead 9-1 at the start of game three. The Panthers were ignited by Cassie Dobson and Rachael Schurman. LC tried to hang in, matching the host team nearly point-for-point down the stretch behind Ivy Bush and Janae Forney.

Schurman led Mead with 10 kills. DeFelice and Schurman each had nine digs. Lacey Anderson had 24 assists and led the team in blocks.

Bush, who was quiet much of the night because LC had passing troubles, finished with a flourish, logging nine kills and six digs.

“We do have a lot (of weapons),” said Kight of Mead’s debut, “and are just trying to gel. We certainly wanted to up our intensity. They did a good job.”

Elsewhere, U-Hi’s third-year starting trio of Mandy Daniels, Daidre Mendenhall and setter Kara Crisp paced the Titans to their season-opening win. Daniels, a returning first-team all leaguer, shared or led almost every statistical category. She tied Mendenhall for kills with 10. EV freshman newcomer Katie Arnold shared the kills lead with senior Angie Smith. … Katrina Johnson had 12 kills and led Mt. Spokane in blocks, Jessica Andrews added 14 digs and Lauren Schneidmiller had four consecutive service aces in game two to lead a sweep of NC. The match marked the return of NC’s Shantel Haugen who missed last season with an knee ligament injury. She had 14 assists and tied for the team lead in blocks. … Kasey Blevens led Ferris in kills, service aces and digs, the latter with 25 during the easy road win in Clarkston. The Bantams were led statistically by Kristin Wilson in assists, aces and digs. … Strong serving carried Shadle over CV, with Sara Lewis scoring 15 consecutive points in the second game and Allison Bjerkestrand nine in a row during game one. . … Sarah Glass served 14 consecutive points in the second game of G-Prep’s sweep of Cheney. . … WV opened with a 25-22 game-one win over Rogers. The Pirates came back with a 25-8 win in the second game before the Eagles pulled off two more 25-22 heart-stoppers. WV trailed 15-8 but battled back in the fourth game. Chelsea Hammerstrom had a service ace on match point and she also had three kills and a dig in the decider while playing middle and outside. Mandi Hohner had 19 assists and Shannon Carey led WV in kills, digs and tied for aces.