That’s three Class 4A powerhouse programs up, all three down for the Tumwater High School volleyball team.
In their home opener, the 2A Thunderbirds knocked off Bellarmine Prep, 3-2, in a thriller to remain undefeated.
The Lions are the third 4A team that Tumwater has defeated in a week. Last week, the T-Birds bested defending 4A state champion Curtis and 4A runner-up Emerald Ridge. Bellarmine finished sixth in the 4A state tournament last year.
So far, Tumwater has passed every early season test.
“The girls kind of have in mind what they want to do this year,” Tumwater coach Tana Otton said. “So I hope no matter who we’re playing, whether it’s a big 4A school or somebody in the league, they’re always just trying to play at the top of their game.”
Apart from a few miscues Tuesday night, the T-Birds appeared primed for a season similar to the one that led them to a 20-1 record and fifth place in the 2A state tournament finish last season.
“This gives us everything we need going into our normal season,” senior outside hitter Brooke Hare said. “… Just remembering what these teams are like, and playing with that same intensity throughout the entire season.”
Tumwater trailed 2-1 after three sets, after nearly catching the Lions on a late rally in the third. The T-Birds went on a 6-1 run to cut Bellarmine’s lead to one point, but Allana McCollum spiked down a kill to seal the game.
“When we kind of battled back at the end and made it a ballgame, I knew we were OK,” Otton said. “They started to get the momentum. That’s what I think spurred us.
“We just didn’t give up in that third game, whether we lost or not. They just continued to build from there.”
The T-Birds fired back in the fourth set, winning 25-12. Junior outside hitter Kennedy Croft, a Gonzaga commit, led the T-Birds with 30 kills. Eastern Oregon commit Maddy Pilon added 49 assists and 18 digs for Tumwater, while senior libero Cristina Hegarty had 29 digs.
Tumwater went back and forth with the Lions in the final set before pulling away on a 6-1 run. But Bellarmine picked up a key block on match point, and Washington State commit Hannah Pukis won another late point from the back row to even it at 14-14.
But Tumwater won the next two. Hare and Bella Najarro blocked Claire McCarthy’s blast for the winner.
“We just had to keep the mentality that we were going to win the game,” Hare said.
Tumwater hosts Olympia at 7 p.m. Thursday in its final match against an opponent from the 4A South Puget Sound League.
Game scores: 25-14, 24-26, 25-23, 12-25, 14-16
Highlights: T – Kennedy Croft 30 kills, 2 blocks; Brooke Hare 2 blocks, 3 assists, 3 kills; Cristina Hegarty 29 digs; Maddy Pilon 49 assists, 18 digs