They have played countless matches since then, but Curtis High School’s volleyball players remember a November night two years ago a little too well.
So as they entered the title game of Saturday’s Class 4A West Central District tournament, the seniors were determined to avoid a repeat of the 2013 state championship match, when Bellarmine Prep beat them, 3-2.
“We were ranked first, and we wanted to finish first,” said senior outside hitter Camryn Buell on Saturday.
That is exactly what they did, as Curtis defeated the defending three-time state champions 23-25, 25-16, 25-21, 25-15 at Kentwood High School.
“It’s definitely our comeback,” said senior outside hitter Elly McEachern, who tallied a match-high 21 kills, 16 digs and three aces. “Especially for the seniors, to show them that we’re not done and we’re not out yet.”
In the opening set, Narrows League champion Bellarmine came out aggressively at the service line and caught Curtis off guard with senior middle blocker Megan Jacobsen’s presence on the outside.
But South Puget Sound League champion Curtis wasn’t fazed. In the second set, the Vikings took the lead at 11-10 and went on an offensive blitz, scoring four consecutive points on two occasions late in the second set.
“We made a couple adjustments after the first set, and sets two, three and four really went our way,” said Curtis coach Michael Miller. “The girls worked hard.”
Curtis took a 9-8 advantage in the third set and led until 17-all, when Bellarmine briefly recaptured the lead. The Vikings pulled away at 21-20 and allowed the Lions just one more point.
Curtis opened scoring in the fourth set as Bellarmine hit the ball out of bounds and led until a 13-all tie. The Vikings allowed just one point from the Lions for every four of their own to close out the match.
“We were kind of in and out of our rhythm and our flow,” said Bellarmine coach Caroline Meines, whose team takes the No. 2 seed into the state tournament. “I don’t think we ever hit that stride tonight.”
Jacobsen, who tallied a team-high 17 kills, called the loss “kind of shocking, but an awakening.”
“They definitely exposed our weak spots and covered our big ones,” she said. “They played amazing.”
After being shut out in the semifinals by Bellarmine in a repeat of last year’s state championship match, Emerald Ridge rebounded for a 27-25, 25-11, 25-17 sweep of Graham-Kapowsin and the No. 3 seed.
The Eagles, who earlier lost in four sets to Curtis, are seeded fourth.
Emerald Ridge co-coach Jill Fox-Mullen said her team was stymied by a lack of firepower against Bellarmine Prep and had trouble shutting down Jacobsen.
“We played with more energy and more as a team,” she said of the match against the Eagles.
Senior libero Allie Bauer said the Jaguars’ rally proves they are still in the hunt for a title.
“It’s a good rush,” she said. “We ended this tournament coming together and doing ER volleyball.”
Two other SPSL schools also are headed to state: No. 5 Tahoma, which bested Timberline, 3-1, and No. 6 Puyallup, which beat Olympia, 3-2.