On this night, it all came down to fundamentals.
A year after barely missing out on a postseason berth, Emerald Ridge clinched the South Puget Sound League’s South Division volleyball title with a 25-17, 25-18 and 25-13 sweep of Curtis, which arrived in Puyallup undefeated in the league.
The teams finish with identical records of 12-2 overall and 7-1 in the SPSL, but Emerald Ridge outright wins the league by virtue of defeating Curtis.
“It’s just playing together and loving what we’re doing,” Jaguars co-coach Bobby McGivern said. “I thought our serving game and our front line, on our blocks, were great. And our defense stood out more than anything.
“If we can keep picking up balls like that and converting points, then we’ve done our job.”
The sophomore-stacked Jaguars cruised to easy wins against a veteran Vikings team that finished third in state last year. On Tuesday night, however, Curtis faltered after taking a 9-6 advantage in the second match and never led again.
Vikings coach Jeff Grosshans said that the defense didn’t do what was necessary to win, but that he was proud of his players for persevering.
“I know they didn’t give up – they all wanted it so bad,” he said. “I think disappointment kicked in, but they didn’t give up fighting.”
Emerald Ridge dominated the third set, jumping out to a 14-9 lead.
Sophomore middle blocker Jessica Davis contributed three of the final six kills – she finished with eight, as well as a trio of blocks.
“We came out strong and we stayed strong throughout the whole game,” Davis said. “It was really exciting.
“Coming in, we just decided we were going to play our hearts out and play our hardest.”
Sophomore setter Isabella Zubrod had 32 assists, five blocks and 10 digs, while her classmate, outside hitter Jenna Mullen, added a game-high nine kills, two blocks and 10 digs.
McGivern said he felt his team benefitted from an unexpected 3-2 loss to Bethel last week.
“Our girls knew that after that, they had to get back to fundamentals,” he said. “It was a good loss for us. Granted, everyone wants to go undefeated, but it made us focus on what we needed to do.”
Zubrod felt similarly.
“Without that loss, we wouldn’t have played as hard as we did,” she said. “We came back and played together like a whole team.”
Curtis outside hitter Jessica Woodruff, a junior, had a team-high 13 digs, seven kills and two blocks.
Junior middle hitter Janell Sparks added seven kills, and sophomore setter Kaycee Shaffer had 22 assists for the Vikings.