YAKIMA – After a one-year abdication, the Mead volleyball team reigned again Saturday night.
Runners-up to Lakeside of Seattle a year ago, the third-seeded Panthers swept No. 4 Lake Washington 25-19, 25-23, 25-18 in the State 3A championship match in the Yakima Valley SunDome. It’s the Panthers’ second title in three years and ninth overall.
Save for a final rally for the Kangaroos in which they scored five straight points while Mead sat on match point, the Panthers controlled the action the better part of the match.
“We had a lot of tough matches earlier in the season that really pushed us,” Panthers coach Shawn Wilson said. “We kind of found our rhythm, about the last three weeks of the season we’ve been playing at the top of our game.”
A back-and-forth opening set turned on a dink by all-state Mead setter Brielle Wilson to knot the score at 18-18. From there, the Panthers closed with a 7-1 run.
Lake Washington, making just its second state appearance, continued to push Mead in the second set before a block from Ava Durgan pushed the Panthers to the cusp of another title.
After a spike by Ashley McMaster pulled Lake Washington to within a point early, Mead used an 11-1 run to take control.
“We’ve definitely been working on our consistency all year and it paid off in this final match,” Brielle Wilson said.
She paced the Panthers offense, feeding senior Lorna Selby, juniors Durgan, Audriana Spielman and Romy Tyler for points.
“She is an excellent ball distributor,” Wilson said. “We have five and she distributes all over the place and it kind of throws defenses off because they don’t know where we’re going.”
Mead dropped just two sets in the SunDome and handed second-seeded Lynnwood its first loss of the season in a four-set semifinal early Saturday afternoon.
The Panthers finished the season 21-2 with their only losses to 4A seventh-seed Gonzaga Prep, which it avenged, and Post Falls, Idaho.
“It’s nice to contribute to a program that was so dominant back then,” said Wilson, who was an assistant coach under Judy Kight during the Panthers’ title run in the 2000s. “To get two in the last three years is pretty exciting.”
Beside the pair of 3A championships, the Panthers also won 4A titles in 2009, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004 and 2003.
Lake Washington was a No. 8 seed a season ago.