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

State volleyball: Sixth-seeded Freeman falls to No. 1 Chelan in State 1A title match

By Jerrel Swenning For The Spokesman-Review

YAKIMA – The Freeman volleyball team fell short in the ultimate goal, becoming the latest of the 16 straight state opponents to fall to powerful Chelan.

Lost, at least momentarily in the four-set championship match defeat to the Goats, was what the Scotties did, not only this weekend in the Yakima Valley SunDome but also this season:

  • Best state finish at the State 1A tournament in two decades.
  • Ninth placing in the past 10 state tournaments after a rare medal-less trip in 2022.
  • Back-to-back Northeast A league titles with spotless conference records.

The sixth-seeded Scotties fell to No. 1 Chelan 25-15, 18-25, 25-20, 25-23 on Saturday night, after handing No. 7 La Center its first loss of the season in a four-set semifinal.

“We knew we were going to have nerves going into that match,” Freeman coach Kaela Straw said. “The girls did such a good job just settling into it and accepting the challenge.”

The Goats, who have won four straight championships, got all they could handle from the Scotties after the champs had swept their way into the title match.

Led by Ava Semprimoznik, the two-time league player of the year who again figures to be a first-team all-state pick when the team is announced later this fall, and all-league outside hitters Kate Schneider and Aspyn Reed, Freeman kept the versatile Chelan lineup from running roughshod.

The Scotties bounced back from an opening set in which the Goats used an early 6-1 run to seize control.

A back-and-forth second set saw Freeman, taller across the front, score the final five points to even the match. Schneider, a senior, and 6-foot-1 junior middle blocker Brooke Berglund did much of the work at the net to neutralize the Goats’ offense and Reed’s dink finished it off.

Freeman trailed much of the third set, but battled to knot the score several times, including at 18-all.

The Goats, though, finished the set on a 7-2 run to close in on the championship.

Chelan looked like it might run away in the fourth, quickly building a 13-5 lead. The Scotties, though, still had plenty of fight in them and chipped away, pulling to within a point at 23-22 on Taylee Phelps’ kill.

A service error, however, pushed the Goats to match point and all-state sophomore Brynn Hughbanks capped the victory with a spike.

Freeman finished the season 18-4 as co-captains Semprimoznik and Schneider capped their stellar careers. They’re the only seniors on the roster.

“That is why they are our co-captains,” Straw said. “Kate has that fire and then Ava calms it down. They do such a good job of balancing each other and it’s been so fun to be around them all season.

“They’ve really helped build the culture of Freeman volleyball.”

Freeman was seeking its first state volleyball championship since a Class A title in 1981 and B crown the year before. The second-place trophy matches the Scotties’ finish in 2003 (1A) and 1978 (B).


Gonzaga Prep 3, Lewis and Clark 1: The second-seeded Bullpups (18-2) advanced to state by beating the visiting sixth-seeded Tigers (9-11) in the District 8 4A second-place game.

Ferris 3, Ridgeline 2: Kennedy Smith had 11 kills, Kjersti Jacobson added 29 assists and the visiting seventh-seeded Saxons (9-9) qualified for state by eliminating the fifth-seeded Falcons (10-8) in the District 8 3A third-place match.

Ellensburg 3, Pullman 0: The Bulldogs (18-2) eliminated the Greyhounds (15-8) 25-14, 25-20, 25-19 in the state fifth-place match. Pullman beat fifth-seeded White River 25-16, 25-18, 20-25, 18-25, 15-12 in a loser-out.

Ephrata 3, Shadle Park 2: The Tigers (16-6) eliminated the Highlanders (16-4) 25-17, 25-16, 22-25, 21-25, 15-12 in a seventh-place bracket match.

Nooksack Valley 3, Lakeside 0: The fifth-seeded Pioneers (14-8) beat the ninth-seeded Eagles (14-8) 25-21, 25-18, 26-24 in a State 1A loser-out.