Puyallup: Sports

Charles Wright clinches Nisqually League championship over second-place Cougars

Coming into Monday night’s match with Cascade Christian High, the Charles Wright Academy girls volleyball team wasn’t going to settle for anything less than clinching the league title inside the Cougars’ gym.

And that’s what the Tarriers did when they picked up a 3-1 win (22-25, 25-22, 27-25 and 25-20), capturing the 1A Nisqually League Championship behind standouts Abbie Jackson and Kylee Kim.

“It feels great — I feel we did really well leading up to this game,” Jackson said.

“There was a lot of anticipation going into the game,” Kim added.

How could there not be anticipation for Charles Wright (12-0, 6-0) after coming in undefeated and only leading second-place Cascade Christian (8-3, 4-2) by a game? A win meant bliss for the Tarriers, while a loss put pressure on them and kept the Cougars’ league-title hopes alive.

“I don’t know how else to put it, but (we) just really, really wanted it tonight,” Kim said.

The first game went to Cascade Christian after the Cougars doubled up on Jackson and forced far too many Tarrier errors. But that was all the Tarriers would tolerate as Jackson and Kim took over the game.

In that first game, Jackson (12 digs, five aces) had two kills but the standout hitter finished with a match-high 23 kills after going a tear in the final three games.

“It feels great,” Charles Wright coach Mindy McGrath said. “Cascade (Christian) is just an awesome team to play — they are always fun, they’re always tough, they’re always strong. So it’s fun to be able to beat and play at their level.”

If it wasn’t Jackson killing any Cougar momentum, it was Kim, who laced one ace after another, finishing with a team-high seven aces.

Now with a league title in hand and the playoffs on the horizon, Charles Wright is geared to prove that this win — and this title — will help carry it forward as the Tarriers look to add more titles in the coming weeks.

“I’m so stoked for the playoffs,” Jackson said.

Dani Tang came into the match wanting to keep her team’s league title hopes alive after only trailing by a game in the standings to Charles Wright — a game the Cougars lost last week.

It seemed like it was Cascade Christian’s star player (Tang) versus Charles Wrights (Jackson) for much of the game. And at the start, it looked like it was going to go Tang’s way.

But after that first-game win, the Cougars fell behind too often, forcing them to play catch up to the league champs.

“Starting out slow has been a problem for us all year,” said Jane Cooksley, who finished with seven aces. “We weren’t able to overcome our slow starts tonight.”

Even though the Tarriers would take five-point leads or go on runs, Cascade Christian kept climbing back behind Tang (16 kills, 19 digs) as the senior captain wasn’t going to go out without a fight.

“We tried our hardest, and that’s all we could do as a team,” Tang said while holding back tears. “They gave it their all and that’s all you can ask of anyone.”