Eighteen times this volleyball season, Gig Harbor High School has matched up with a team from its 3A South Sound Conference and 18 times the Tides have won.
Saturday at Yelm High School’s gym, Gig Harbor defeated both North Thurston and Capital in straight sets, with the 25-20, 25-17, 25-15 victory over the Cougars giving it the championship of the Class 3A West Central/Southwest District tournament.
Timberline defeated North Thurston in four sets to claim the bi-district’s third seed in next week’s state tournament in the Tri-Cities while the Rams get the fourth seed. Shelton was eliminated by Central Kitsap in five sets.
“We played with energy the whole weekend,” said Tides coach Melissa Klein after her team won four matches without dropping a set. “The girls played solid ball.”
Lauren Hatfield led Gig Harbor with 15 kills and also had 15 digs in the title game. Selena Dutton had 13 kills and 27 digs. Ceci Rollins had four blocks.
The Tides found holes in Capital’s defense whether by a hard kill or a dink.
“Capital’s libero (Elise Meath) is really good, so we wanted to either take a hard angle or chip it into an opening with her in the middle,” Klein said.
From the other side of the net, Capital coach Katie Turcotte didn’t see many openings.
“They don’t have a lot of holes,” she said. “They play great defense, not a lot of balls go down, even when they need to do crazy stuff to get a return.”
The Cougars were led by freshman Maia Nichols’ nine kills, along with eight from Betsy Knutson-Keller; Nichols also had 13 digs. Tia Grow finished with 22 assists, while Meath collected 24 digs and Devyn Collins added 11.
Both coaches have a good feeling heading into state.
“I’m confident,” Klein said. “We’re ready. We’re excited. The girls wanted this championship, we got it and now they want the next one.”
“I feel great,” Turcotte said. “The girls are improving in every match, mentally and physically.”
Timberline 3, North Thurston 1: The Blazers came into the third-fourth seed match after a straight sets loss to Capital in the semi-final. They lost the first set to the Rams, 17-25, before taking the last three 25-20, 25-14, 25-15.
“It was a tough transition,” said Blazers’ coach Krista Manke. “We lost, then had 20 minutes to get ready for North Thurston. We talked about sticking together and playing for each other, for the girl next to you.”
Julianna Salanoa led Timberline with 14 kills, 13 dogs and 8 blocks. A perfect 13 for 13 from the service line, she also had three aces. Junior hitter Kasey Louis followed with 11 kills, 10 digs and 3 blocks. Setter Natalie Stark had 34 assists while Raja Togiola added 12 digs and three aces.
Manke saw the tourney as a plus for the Blazers heading into state, in part thanks to a tough four-set win over Greater St. Helen’s league power Prairie in which Salanoa had 20 kills and Stark 41 assists.
“I’m just ecstatic to be going to state,” she said.
2A WEST CENTRAL DISTRICT TOURNAMENT
Steilacoom 3, River Ridge 0: The Hawks won a loser-out match, 3-1, against Franklin Pierce earlier in the day, but couldn’t solve the Sentinels at Franklin Pierce High School.
The loss ended the season for River Ridge (8-9).
2A SOUTHWEST DISTRICT TOURNAMENT
Tumwater 3, Ridgefield 2: Kennedy Croft had 11 kills in a decisive fifth set to lift the T-Birds (18-0) to a 2A district championship at Woodland High School.
Ridgefield won the fourth set, 25-19, to force a fifth, but Tumwater maintained control, winning the final set, 15-13.
Columbia River 3, W.F. West 0: The Chieftains won in three straight sets to eliminate the Bearcats (6-12) from the playoffs.
1A SOUTHWEST DISTRICT TOURNAMENT
Castle Rock 3, Elma 0: The Rockets ended Elma’s (7-10) playoff run in three straight sets at Castle Rock High School.