The past three State 3A volleyball champions have come out of the Greater Spokane League – Mead, the defending champion, and Mt. Spokane, which won back-to-back in 2018 and ’19.
But District 8 was allotted just two berths to the state tournament this year, which means a couple of good teams will be left out.
And when Ridgeline upset No. 4 Mt. Spokane in a semifinal, coming back in the fifth set after being down 14-11, it complicated things even more.
So Mead did not take the second-year Falcons lightly in the championship match on Tuesday.
Cassie Moeller had 10 kills, Danikah Johnson and Ava Durgan had three blocks apiece and were a net presence all match, and the fourth-seeded Panthers (14-1) swept the visiting sixth-seeded Falcons (11-5) 25-21, 25-22, 25-22 in the District 8 3A championship match.
Mead, the No. 5 3A team in the final state coaches poll, punched a ticket to defend its title.
“Watching (the Falcons) play against Mt. Spokane and how fired up they were there, we knew they’d come in fired up,” Mead coach Shawn Wilson said. “So we had to up our game a little bit more. And I think we did today.”
“I had a big adrenaline rush. It was really high-paced,” Moeller said. “That first rally of the game they came out really strong as expected. And so I think we adjusted really well.”
The district seeds were misleading – the Mid-Columbia Conference winner received the top overall seed by default, and the MCC received higher seeds throughout, in a preassigned bracket. All three MCC teams in the tournament were eliminated by GSL teams in the first round and the MCC won just two sets in the three first-round matches.
Ridgeline gets a rematch against GSL champ Mt. Spokane, a three-set winner over Cheney, in the district second-place match Saturday at Gonzaga Prep for the other bid to state.
“We’ve been working really hard all season and some of these girls have been playing together for a really long time,” Ridgeline coach Whitney Abell said. “And I think we had a big win against Mt. Spokane that just left the girls really hungry.
“It’s hard to compete with teams that have been here numerous times and our girls just haven’t. But they’re working through that and we’re excited to come back on Saturday and play Mt. Spokane and take it to them again.”
Mead raced out to an early 12-5 lead in the first set and held off a late charge by the Falcons to take the set by four points. The Panthers went down early in the second, but three straight points – including a pair of kills by Romy Tyler – switched the lead and Mead eked out a three-point win in the second.
In the third game, the Panthers took advantage of a few Ridgeline unforced errors, and a big block by Ava Durgan, to run up a 14-7 lead. Durgan’s kill made it 21-15, but a four-point run by the Falcons made the deficit two.
Johnson came up with a block to make it 24-19. Abell called timeout and the Falcons scored the next three points, but a block attempt went into the net for match point.
Mt. Spokane 3, Cheney 0: Karissa Linder had 10 kills with three blocks and the second-seeded Wildcats (15-1) eliminated the visiting seventh-seeded Blackhawks (11-7) 25-22, 25-11, 25-17.
Lani Ama had 33 assists and Willow Almquist had 10 digs for MtS.
Lewis and Clark 3, Chiawana 2: The third-seeded Tigers (9-9) eliminated the fourth-seeded Riverhawks (14-6) 21-25, 25-20, 20-25, 25-18, 16-14 in a District 8 4A loser-out.
LC faces second-seeded Kamiakin in the district third-place match on Saturday for a berth to state.
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