Rachel Erickson credited a shaky start in Friday night’s Class 2A state volleyball quarterfinal match to a long delay through which she and her Capital High School teammates suffered.
One powerful swing by Erickson was all the Cougars needed for a kick start. From there, the squad’s talent and confidence surfaced.
Erickson paced Capital with 15 kills as the Cougars topped East Valley of Spokane, 25-17, 25-20, 26-24, at Pierce College in Lakewood.
“We just needed a little time to warm up,” Erickson said. “We had such a long time between matches. We knew it would turn for us eventually.”
Capital will face Sehome, a 3-1 winner over Tumwater, in the state semifinals at 1 p.m. Saturday.
“We got such big performances out of Rachel and Kaysee (Wohl),” said Capital coach Natalie Rhodes, whose team has won 11 consecutive matches. “When our offense is clicking, we are tough to beat.”
Dreams of an all-Evergreen Conference semifinal were squashed when Sehome knocked off the Thunderbirds, 25-23, 31-29, 26-28, 25-19, in the quarterfinals.
Capital (16-3) defeated Port Angeles, 25-16, 25-13, 25-13, in its first-round match, which began at 9:45 a.m., then didn’t return to the court until 7:45 p.m. for the quarterfinal match.
“Too long between matches,” Erickson said. “We came out a little flat because we had been waiting around for so long. Midway through that first set, though, we started to realize we weren’t going to lose.”
East Valley opened the match with runs of 5-0 and 3-0 to take a 12-9 lead before Erickson and Wohl started to find success with their attack.
Three kills from Wohl combined with two from Erickson helped the Cougars claim a 17-15 edge. Back-to-back aces from Marissa Ottesen pushed Capital’s lead to 24-15.
Erickson’s fifth kill of the set ended it at 25-17.
The Knights benefited from some early unforced errors by the Cougars in the second set but weren’t able to string together any runs.
The set stayed close until the Cougars found a groove once again behind Erickson, whose two kills and a block during a three-point stretch gave Capital a 17-12 lead.
Paige Schieferstein’s kill closed out the second set for the Cougars.
East Valley used a 6-0 run in the third set to go up 16-10.
The Knights’ lead quickly ballooned to 20-13, but the Cougars charged back. With blocks from Erickson and Wohl, and a kill from Sam Yorke, Capital tied the set at 21.
The teams traded points before back-to-back errors by the Knights ended the set and the match.
Tumwater, state runner-up the past two seasons, raced out to a 9-3 lead against Sehome and enjoyed an 18-12 advantage in the first set before falling, 25-23.
The second set was equally heartbreaking for the Thunderbirds. They led 29-28 on Mackenzie Bowen’s kill, but an ace by Natalie Knops and a block from Taylor Lyall gave the Mariners the win.
After taking the third set, Tumwater couldn’t keep the momentum going in the fourth.
The T-Birds, who knocked off Washington, 25-15, 24-26, 25-21, 25-15, to advance to the quarterfinals, will face East Valley at 11 a.m. Saturday in a loser-out match.