Thurston County’s reputation of being a hotbed for volleyball certainly held true during district tournament play as five local high schools – Black Hills, Capital, North Thurston, Timberline and Tumwater – all punched their tickets to state.
Capital, North Thurston and Timberline are all heading back to the Class 3A state tournament, which will be held at the Toyota Center in Kennewick, for a second consecutive year. Cross-town rivals Black Hills and Tumwater will stay close to home, advancing to the 2A tourney, which will be held at Saint Martin’s University. Both tournaments will be held November 10-11, 2017.
Capital High School volleyball
Capital, which ended the regular season ranked No. 2 in the state by the Washington State Volleyball Coaches Association, continued its stellar year by claiming the 3A West Central District/Southwest Washington district title with a 3-0 sweep of 3A South Sound Conference foe Gig Harbor in the finals.
Led by senior libero Elisa Meath, the Cougars, who have won 10 straight, will take plenty of momentum and a 17-1 record into the state tournament.
Capital, which also impressively swept 3A Greater Saint Helens League champion and fifth-ranked Prairie at the district tournament, will face Snohomish, the third seed out of District 1, in the first round at 9:45 a.m. The Cougars advanced to the state semifinals last year before finishing fourth.
Timberline High School volleyball
Timberline (12-6) finished third at the District 3 tournament, losing to Capital (3-1) in the semifinals, before knocking off North Thurston (3-2) in a seeding match.
The Blazers notched 3-0 wins over Spanaway Lake in the first round and 3A Pierce County League champion Bonney Lake in the quarterfinals at districts.
“I think they fight through challenges and that’s what makes them strong at the end. We’ve had some challenges this year and they completely fought through them,” Timberline coach Krista Manke said. “It’s been fun watching them play this way.”
Timberline will open state play against Metro League Mountain Division champion Eastside Catholic (17-4).
North Thurston High School volleyball
Despite having just one senior on its roster in outside hitter Lauren Porter, North Thurston (10-8) is heading back to state after a strong district showing. The Rams defeated Mountain View (3-1) and Stadium (3-1) in the first two rounds before losing to Gig Harbor (3-1) in the semifinals.
“This has just been a fun group. They have really come on strong the last few weeks and have played like a team,” North Thurston coach Jackie Meyer said. “We were talking at practice the other day and everyone has a role. We have an 11-man rotation and they all know what their roles are and are willing to compete. It is so much fun. We only have one senior, but the girls just come out and fight every time.”
North Thurston drew third-ranked Mount Spokane, last year’s 3A state runner-up, in the first round. Mount Spokane lost in last year’s championship match, 25-15, 25-19, 25-19, to Lakeside of Seattle.
Tumwater High School volleyball
Tumwater, the third-ranked team in the 2A classification and the defending state champions, had a rockier trip than expected to secure its eighth consecutive state playoff berth.
The Thunderbirds (15-3) needed to win back-to-back loser-out contests to wrap up the third and final state playoff slot out of District 4.
After dispatching Columbia River (3-0) in the first round of the district tournament, Tumwater suffered a surprising, 3-2, loss to Ridgefield in the semifinals. The defeat snapped the T-Birds’ 11-match winning streak – a stretch where they posted nine wins by straight sets and won the other two by scores of 3-1.
Tumwater, which also won the state title in 2014, rallied through the consolation bracket, defeating Columbia River (3-2) and Washougal (3-1)
The T-Birds are led by senior Kennedy Croft, a two-time 2A Evergreen Conference MVP, first-team all-conference junior Sophia Koelsch, and second-team selections Savannah Sleasman and Leah Cairns.
Tumwater is looking to become the first program to win consecutive 2A state titles since Pullman accomplished the feat in 2009-10. Coincidentally, the T-Birds will begin their quest towards a second straight crown against Pullman in the first round. Tumwater will face the fourth-ranked Greyhounds.
Black Hills High School volleyball
Black Hills (12-5) is making its first state tournament appearance since 2011 following a second-place finish at the district tournament.
The Wolves, which placed senior Emma Goodman and junior Hannah Rongen on the all-EvCo first team, cruised to the district finals by sweeping Washougal in the first round and Hockinson in the second before dropping a thrilling five-set match to Ridgefield in the championship.
Black Hills begins state tournament play against White River, the state’s top-ranked team. The Hornets (17-1) suffered their first loss in the semifinals at districts, dropping a 3-1 match to Fife, before settling for the district’s third seed with a 3-0 win over Kingston.