The competition was different, but the result was the same.
A year after winning the Class 3A state volleyball championship, West Valley of Yakima rolled to a 3-1 win (25-23, 18-25, 25-22, 25-18) over Tumwater to take home the 2A title Saturday night at Pierce College in Lakewood.
Despite dropping to a lower classification this year, Rams coach Katie Hinckley said they didn’t expect to face anything but the toughest teams in the state.
“Going down to 2A doesn’t mean it’s going to be easier,” she said. “Tumwater is one of the best teams we have played. It’s an amazing feeling because that’s a very good team we beat.”
West Valley came into the final having beat rival Selah 3-1 (25-22, 25-21, 26-28, 25-12) in the semifinals. The Vikings had beaten them in the district championship match, so getting revenge provided some necessary momentum.
“I was actually worried they’d be done, like, ‘Oh yeah, we beat Selah,’ so I had to rile them back up,” Hinckley said.
Defensively strong West Valley jumped out to a lead in the first game, capitalizing on Tumwater’s mistakes.
While the Thunderbirds rallied in the second game and went on a late run in the fourth game to bring the game to 23-18, they were unable to block the Rams’ crushing hits.
“They were pretty flawless when it came to their serves,” said Tumwater coach Tana Otten, whose team rallied to beat Colville 3-2 (25-17, 17-25, 25-23, 23-25, 15-10) earlier in the day. “They had like, three hitting errors, and we couldn’t block them.”
Senior Ally Moore finished with 12 kills and 21 digs, senior setter Julia Nathe had 44 assists and 15 digs, and senior libero Carly Riehl added 24 digs.
Tumwater was led by senior hitter Karlee Sampson, who tallied a match-high 24 kills, 14 digs and an ace, and senior Courtney Bowen, with 48 assists.
Otten said it was hard to see her players go home once again as runners-up. Last year, they fell to Burlington-Edison in the championship match.
“The hardest part is knowing how much they wanted it, and how hard they worked,” she said. “But I’m so proud of them. They played hard.”
Sampson said that being in the championship proved that the Thunderbirds were just as worthy of the title.
“They’re a really good team, and we are, too,” she said, wiping away tears. “If we had played them 10 times, who knows what would have happened.”