Moe Melhart’s Columbia River High volleyball team has flown under the radar this season.
But the Chieftains will catch a lot of attention this week at the Class 3A state volleyball tournament at Saint Martin’s University following their performance at Friday and Saturday’s 3A West Central/Southwest bi-district tournament at Auburn Mountainview High School
The Chieftains didn’t drop a set in the two-day, four-match tournament en route to winning the district title over Bonney Lake, 25-19, 25-22, 25-13 on Saturday.
The district title capped off an impressive weekend for Columbia River, which finished second in the 3A Greater St. Helens League behind Prairie, and also lost to Prairie at last weekend’s 3A sub-district title match in three sets.
The Chieftains had 3-0 sweeps over Shelton and Enumclaw on Friday, then topped host Auburn Mountainview in the semifinals to reach the title match against the Panthers.
“I don’t have any rock stars, I just have a team that works well together,” said Melhart, a former setter at Washington State. “We got the momentum at the right time, and that’s awesome. We turned it on against Enumclaw. That’s really when it started.”
Freshman left-hander Evi Wilson had 13 kills and two digs, Morgan Ambrose had 27 assists and Trisha Johnson had seven kills and two blocks in the title sweep.
Leading two sets to none, it was Wilson with four kills in an eight-point stretch that helped Columbia River to an 8-0 run and a 19-10 advantage.
Despite the loss, Bonney Lake qualified for state for the first time in the school’s seven-year history. The Panthers topped Prairie, 3-2, in the semifinals after taking out Kennedy Catholic, 3-2, in Friday’s winner-to-state match.
Other state qualifiers from the district tournament were Auburn Mountainview (third), Timberline (fourth), Prairie (fifth) and North Thurston (sixth).
CLASS 2A VOLLEYBALL
Sequim defeated Fife in the semifinals, 25-19, 17-25, 25-23, 25-19, then beat Washington, 25-21, 18-25, 25-21, 25-22, in the district title at Franklin Pierce High School.
The top six seeds into the 2A tournament this week at Pierce College are Sequim, Washington, Fife, Sumner, White River and Steilacoom.
4A DISTRICT FOOTBALL
At Bothell 31, Curtis 3: The Vikings were forced into five turnovers and saw their season end at Pop Keeney Stadium.
Danny Wilson rushed 15 times for 82 yards and a pair of touchdowns for the Cougars before exiting with leg cramps.
Bothell scored on its first series – a 14-yard touchdown run by Wilson. The Vikings cut it to 7-3 on Jared Kingery’s 28-yard field goal on their second drive – but after that, Bothell’s defense dominated the game.
At Skyline 59, Puyallup 17: Spartans standout quarterback Max Browne accounted for seven touchdowns – five through the air – and the senior became the state’s all-time leader in completions as No. 1 Skyline downed the Vikings.
Five of those Browne scores came in the opening quarter (three passing, two rushing). The only thing that interrupted the scoring onslaught was Brendan Illies’ 60-yard touchdown bomb to Rob Howard early in the quarter.
3A DISTRICT FOOTBALL
At North Thurston 40, Rainier Beach 0: Brandon Belisario spearheaded the Rams’ rushing attack with 103 yards as North Thurston won at South Sound Stadium.
They gained 403 yards – 311 on the ground. It is the third time in the past four seasons the Rams have advanced to the state playoffs.
At Nathan Hale 19, Shelton 6: Ralph Kinne rushed for 124 yards and a touchdown, but the Highclimbers committed six turnovers, including four fumbles in a loss at Seattle’s Memorial Stadium.
Kinne finished the year with 2,348 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns.
1A DISTRICT FOOTBALL
Meridian 26, at Eatonville 15: The Trojans had to win a tiebreaking playoff just to get into the district playoffs, then rode a couple of timely plays to upset the Cruisers at Sunset Chev Stadium.
Up 12-9, Meridian was aided by a Cruisers penalty at the end of the first half – and cashed in on quarterback Max McGuinn’s 2-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Brockman with four seconds to go.
Eatonville cut it to 19-15 on Zach Fairhart’s 30-yard touchdown run with a minute to go in the third quarter, but the Trojans iced it on Relijah McMillan’s interception return, which was fumbled into the end zone and recovered for a touchdown by McGuinn with 18 seconds to go.News Tribune news services and The Seattle Times contributed to this report.