Lions’ reward for title? 4 days of practice

mwochnick@theolympian.comNovember 2, 2013 

You don’t hear from the Bellarmine Prep volleyball players about their No. 1 state ranking or how high they could go in various national polls.

All the 4A defending state champions are thinking about is the next four days of practice before the 4A West Central/Southwest bidistrict tournament begins next weekend at Kentwood High School.

Lions coach Jody DeGroot said some recent game-plan changes have the Lions eager to get back to practice Monday.

“I feel like we need four days of practice,” DeGroot said.

The Lions looked to be all but ready for the postseason after a 25-21, 25-19, 25-13 sweep of Gig Harbor in the 4A Narrows League tournament title match Saturday afternoon at Mount Tahoma.

Courtney Schwan and Reghan Pukis each had 10 kills, and 6-foot-4 middle hitter Claire Martin added a match-high six blocks as well as five kills.

The top four teams from the 4A and 3A divisions advance to next week’s West Central/Southwest bidistrict tournaments at Kentwood and Auburn Mountainview high schools, respectively.

Bellarmine and Gig Harbor are the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds; Olympia topped Stadium then Central Kitsap, 25-15, 25-13, 25-13, in the third/fourth-place seeding match behind Rachel Kelson’s 12 kills and two blocks.

The undefeated Lions have won 72 out of 73 sets this season; only Olympia won a set off Bellarmine Prep in the teams’ first meeting in Tacoma on Oct. 2.

And for a while, it looked as though the Tides, who finished tied with Olympia for second place in the 4A Narrows League standings, would take a set off the Lions, too.

The first set featured 11 lead changes, and Lindsay Schelbert’s ace gave the Lions the lead for good at 20-19. Bellarmine Prep got its final five points of the set on kills by Schwan (three), Pukis, and Schelbert.

While the University of Washington-bound Schwan, who was announced as the league’s MVP for a third consecutive year prior to Saturday’s match, had her moments at the net, perhaps her biggest impact of the match was at the service line.

Her crafty, top-spin jump serve was no match for the Tides in the early stages of the third set as the 6-2 Schwan pounded out seven consecutive points, including five aces to increase a 6-2 Bellarmine Prep lead to 13-2. Gig Harbor couldn’t get any closer than 16-10.

“Courtney can control a game with her serve if you can’t pass the ball out,” Tides coach Sue Westering said. “We shot ourselves in the foot with a lot of serves in the net or out of bounds, and you can’t give them that.”

CLASS 3A

The Timberline Blazers (15-0) topped Shelton for the third time this season, this time in the 3A Narrows League tournament title match, 25-15, 25-16, 25-12.

The Blazers received all-around performances from Riley Podowicz (10 kills, two blocks, seven digs), Emily Tate (nine kills, five digs), Hunter Manke (34 assists) and Molly Emmons (seven kills, five blocks).

The Blazers earned the league’s No. 1 seed to next week’s 3A bidistrict tournament.

North Thurston earned the No. 3 seed after downing Wilson in its loser-out match, then topping Mount Tahoma, 25-14, 25-13, 26-24, in the third/fourth-place seeding match.

Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 mwochnick@theolympian.com @megwochnick

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