3A: Islanders finally get their title

mwochnick@theolympian.comNovember 17, 2013 

LACEY — Indescribable.

That’s how Sara Lindquist described Mercer Island’s first state title in volleyball Saturday night after the Islanders topped Holy Names, 21-25, 25-16, 25-23, 15-25, 15-13, in the Class 3A state title match at Saint Martin’s University’s Marcus Pavilion after trailing two sets to one.

It’s the second time the Islanders have played for a state title in program history; in 1977, the school finished runners-up to Renton.

Thanks to the play of Lindquist, the Class 3A state tournament MVP who had a match-high 35 kills, 18 digs and four aces, the Islanders earned the title and a measure of satisfaction. In 2012, Mercer Island made the state tournament but lost in the first round.

“This year we came back with a chip on our shoulder,” said Lindquist, a Dartmouth commit. “We had nothing to lose.”

Facing elimination after Holy Names took a 2-1 lead, Mercer Island rushed out to a 20-10 advantage in the fourth set. That gave the Islanders a big momentum shift to the first-to-15 fifth set, Lindquist said.

“That was crucial,” she said. “We needed to build off it to power that fifth set and play our hearts out.”

In the fifth, Mercer Island’s front line of Hannah Ehlers and Olivia Hughes had a combined four blocks, including back-to-back blocks by Hughes to help the Islanders to a 9-4 lead.

Holy Names got as close as 13-12, but Lindquist’s kill gave her team the lead for good at 14-13.

“It was a matter of staying focused and staying composed,” Lindquist said. “These girls deserve it more than anything in the world.”

BLAZERS POWER TO BEST FINISH IN SCHOOL HISTORY

Timberline’s dream of a deep state run might’ve been derailed after a first-round sweep of eventual state finalist Holy Names. But what’s been a season of firsts this season – its first undefeated regular-season and first district title – happened again when the Blazers earned the program’s best state finish.

After a 3-1 win over Kennedy Catholic, the seventh-place trophy is the program’s second state trophy, joining the eighth-place trophy from 2011.

Seniors Riley Podowicz, Hunter Manke, Melissa Pittelkau and Kori Tucker exit their high school careers proud of what they have accomplished.

“If you would’ve told me four years ago that this is how it would end, I wouldn’t have believed it,” said Pittelkau, who finished with seven kills and seven digs.

“I am so proud of how much we accomplished here as a team. We’re more than a team here. We’re family.”

Third/fourth place: Southridge won the third-place trophy for the second straight year after a 25-27, 26-24, 25-21, 27-25 win over Columbia River.

Fifth/sixth place: Meadowdale topped Oak Harbor, which entered the state tournament with a below-.500 record, 25-12, 22-25, 25-20, 25-18.

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

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