The long trip up from Portland has definitely become worth it for Rick Lorenz, the volleyball coach at Central Catholic High School.
Not only does the Seattle native get to see old friends, but for the second year in a row his team emerged as champion of the Kent Classic Volleyball Tournament.
Central Catholic defeated another Oregon school, Crook County of Prineville, the state’s reigning 4A champion, 25-23 and 25-16.
“This is a great group,” he said. “We only have four seniors and we’re playing a lot of sophomores, so this is a big win for us.”
Crook County coach Rosie Honl said her players had to step it up against a big, physical team.
“We go to a couple hitters all the time (and) when we go against the bigger girls, what happens is they don’t have to jump,” she said with a laugh.
Central Catholic was led by Raina Hembry, a 6-foot-3 middle blocker who has signed with the University of Tennessee. Crook County features 6-foot middle blocker Makayla Lindberg, who will play at Portland next year.
Hembry said she wasn’t sure what to expect against a field of mostly Washington schools.
“I’m not going to lie, it was kind of intimidating not knowing the competition,” she said. “But I think we did really well.”
Lorenz admitted he had been hoping to face Curtis in the finals because they will be seeing Crook County the next couple of weekends.
“We always like coming here and seeing Washington’s best,” he said.
In the semifinals, Curtis won the first set, 25-22, before losing, 22-25. The match looked within reach when the Vikings went up 13-8 in the third set, but they faltered and lost, 15-13.
Still, coach Jeff Grosshans said he was pleased with their performance.
“It was a rough end of the day, but we played great,” he said. “It was a team effort, and we’re disappointed in the outcome, but we tied for third and we’re happy with our play.”
Middle hitter Rachel Levenseller, a senior, had a similar view.
“It definitely felt better to lose to (an Oregon school) because we knew we were the only Puget Sound-area school left in the gold bracket,” she said. “But it still kind of hurt in the end.”
Grosshans said that facing tough competition is beneficial for his team, which finished third in the Class 4A state tournament last year.
“We got to defend some big hitters, which is great preparation for the rest of the season,” he said.
Mead of Spokane finished tied for third after losing to Central Catholic in two sets (25-21, 25-16).
Other local schools playing at Kentwood High School included Kentwood, Todd Beamer, Bellarmine Prep and Emerald Ridge.