Since starting Auburn Riverside’s volleyball program 20 years ago, coach Chris Leverenz has made it a point to schedule the Linda Sheridan Volleyball Classic.
Her Ravens made the trip more than worthwhile Saturday by winning the high-powered, 64-team tournament for the first time.
Kiana Drumheller and Precious Atafua combined for 19 kills and Carson Heilborn had 20 assists as the Ravens defeated the Battle Ground Tigers 25-22, 25-21 in the title match at Shadle Park High’s Linda Sheridan Court.
Leverenz said she has several reasons to automatically include the state’s biggest tournament on her schedule.
“I think it’s nice to be able to see 3A, 4A and 2A schools,” she said. “I like getting my kids to travel. I think it’s important to learn how to travel for volleyball. And I just love playing some of the Spokane schools because traditionally they all know how to play volleyball.”
“We play so many good teams here and we just bond and figure everything out,” said Heilborn, a four-year starter and University of New Mexico recruit. “It’s kind of halfway through the season, so we work on anything we need to work on.”
The Ravens, ranked No. 2 among 3A schools in the Washington coaches’ poll, improved to 19-0 with seven victories during the day. Auburn Riverside made its second appearance in the title match, having lost to Eisenhower in 2004.
Auburn Riverside, which just dropped down from the 4A classification, had never played Battle Ground, the fifth-ranked team among 4A schools.
In the title match, Battle Ground led the first game 14-9 before the Ravens turned it around with a 13-3 run. The Tigers held a 20-18 second-game lead when Leverenz took a timeout. The Ravens responded with a 6-0 run.
The Ravens’ roster features seven seniors, including three starters.
“I think they have a lot of ability,” Leverenz said. “They’re very talented. I think keeping them challenged and keeping them focused is going to be our challenge.”
“The juniors, sophomores and even the freshmen just add everything to the team,” Heilborn said.
Both finalists advanced with semifinal sweeps. Auburn Riverside defeated Columbia River and Battle Ground topped West Valley (Yakima), the 2011 tournament champion.
Until the final, the Ravens’ biggest challenge was a 2-1 win in pool play over Mead, the six-time tourney champion.
WV (Yakima) edged Columbia River 25-23 in the game for third and fourth places.
University (19-2), ranked sixth in the 4A poll, was the top area finisher in fifth place, cruising past Bishop Blanchet 25-13.
The Titans reached the fifth-place match with a 25-16 win over Lewiston, avenging a loss to the two-time defending Idaho 5A State champions at the Lakeland tournament.
Central Valley and Lake City tied for seventh. CV, ranked fourth among 4A teams, dropped its first match of the season with a 25-22, 25-23 quarterfinal setback against Columbia River.
Mt. Spokane placed ninth after losing to Greater Spokane League neighbor CV 25-21. Lewiston, last year’s tourney runner-up, rebounded from the loss to U-Hi by defeating Prairie for 11th place.
In second-round play at Lewis and Clark, 27-year Colfax coach Sue Doering earned her 800th career win after a victory over Wilbur-Creston.
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