This Curtis High School volleyball team reminds coach Michael Miller a lot of what Emerald Ridge had last year.
Its record does, too.
Senior outside hitter Elly McEachern had a game-high 17 kills and 16 digs to lead the Vikings over Emerald Ridge for the third time this season, this time sweeping the Jaguars, 25-20, 25-15, 25-19, in the championship of the 4A South Puget Sound League tournament on Saturday at Curtis High School.
Curtis lost all four times it played Emerald Ridge last season, including in the 4A state semifinals, and had never beat the Jaguars since Miller took over three years ago.
“It does, it does,” Miller said. “They swept us the past two years, so this was nice. It feels pretty good to finally be that one (seed) and not that two.”
Curtis, which won the league title for the first time in more than three decades, will play the fifth seed from the 4A Narrows League in the first round of the 4A West Central District Tournament at noon on Friday at Kentwood High School.
With the No. 2 seed, Emerald Ridge will face Rogers in the first round of districts at 1:45 p.m. Friday at Kentwood.
Curtis narrowly beat Emerald Ridge in five sets their first meeting of the season, then four sets in the second meeting — but this time only needed three.
The Vikings jumped out to a 7-1 lead on McEachern’s kill in the first set, then 14-2 lead in the second before Emerald Ridge coach Bobby McGivern called a timeout.
“This is the first time I’ve seen you guys looking around at each other wondering what’s going on instead of rallying around each other,” McGivern told his team during the timeout. “We have to change our attitude.
“I just think it was a mental thing, because we had lost to Curtis twice already in league and here we are in the title (match) losing,” McGivern said afterward. “I could see it in their faces. But we had to go down swinging.”
Emerald Ridge responded with a 10-4 run with a few big plays from Makenna Smith, who finished with a team-high six kills and nine digs. But Curtis pulled away for the win.
Emerald Ridge’s first lead of the match came at 4-3 in the third set, but Curtis quickly regrouped.
“We’ve been working on a lot of new stuff like faster tempo,” McEachern said. “We’ve been working hard, so it’s just something that comes along with lots of hard work.”
“But we just got to keep going. There’s a lot more to do.”
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677