After a win Oct. 20 over Lakes, the Bonney Lake High volleyball team is one win away from locking up a share of the inaugural 3A Pierce County League title.
Bonney Lake (11-2 league) dominated at the net like it has for most of the season behind a revolving door of Panthers that took three straight sets (25-14, 25-13 and 25-18) from Lakes. With Bethel (11-2 league) defeating Lincoln, both Bethel and Bonney Lake can claim a share of the PCL championship by winning their final game on Tuesday (Oct. 25).
“We’re coming in knowing that we’re at the top of the league, and that we can just do plays just like we practiced,” said Carly Gibbon of the Panthers’ confidence in closing out the season on top of the PCL. “We trust each other. We’re doing our own jobs and not doing each other’s jobs for them. That’s helped us win games.”
Ashlynn Tyler led the Panthers with 10 kills and Alisha Feist added nine as Bonney Lake had 30 kills as a team in the win at Lakes High.
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It has been a combination of factors that have helped the Panthers to the top of the league this season. Sisters Carly and Dana Gibbon have been a strong presence at the net, and Tyler and Feist lead an endless barrage of capable hitters.
And it hasn’t been just the setting skills from Payton Mitchell and Brooke Nelson, nor the defensive digs from libero Hanna Littlefield.
Everybody’s a good player. We’re not worried who goes in.
Is there a single aspect that directly connects to the Panthers’ success this season?
“I think that we all are really good friends,” said Mitchell on the reason for Bonney Lake’s success this season.
It’s that simple?
“Yeah, pretty much,” Mitchell said. “We all just have a really good chemistry, and we’re like, ‘Hey! What’s up?’ all the time to each other.”
“We love our team and we think everyone deserves to play,” Feist added.
If it’s the team bond that has these Panthers rocking the 3A PCL in its first year, then this team can be scary good when the playoffs start in a little more than a week.
After Bonney Lake worked a 14-4 lead in the first set against Lakes, Carly Gibbon misread the return from the Lancers and allowed the shot to find a crease just out of reach. There was no anger, no frustration on the poor play — only a smile and a small laugh to her team on the floor. And then a joke was told by Mitchell and everyone was smiling.
“We’re definitely one of the teams that doesn’t play good when we’re serious,” Mitchell said.
One bad play doesn’t define them as a player or team.
Volleyball is a team sport. You can’t pass it to yourself, you can’t hit it to yourself — you all have to work together. It’s like a puzzle.
“Volleyball is a team sport. You can’t pass it to yourself, you can’t hit it to yourself — you all have to work together,” Tyler said. “It’s like a puzzle.”
Bonney Lake (11-2 league) will host Stadium on Tuesday (Oct. 25), and Bethel (11-2) hosts Spanaway Lake. If both teams finish with the same league record, they will each share the 3A PCL title.
What only matters to Bonney Lake is that the Panthers have come together on big games all season long, so why not do it one last time?
This time, celebrating as the first 3A PCL championship.
“Our team has talked about it, and we’re okay with it,” Feist said. “We’ve all worked really hard, and we deserve it. We think we can finish strong on Tuesday, and carry that to districts and state.”