High School Sports

WIAA state volleyball primer: Top-contenders Auburn Riverside, Gig Harbor, Tumwater hope to finish weekend with state titles

Auburn Riverside won the 4A NPSL Olympic title and a 4A West Central/Southwest bidistrict title behind All-Area player of the year Calley Heilborn. It hopes to win its second state title in the past three years this weekend.
Auburn Riverside won the 4A NPSL Olympic title and a 4A West Central/Southwest bidistrict title behind All-Area player of the year Calley Heilborn. It hopes to win its second state title in the past three years this weekend. lwong@thenewstribune.com

CLASS 4A STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS

Friday-Saturday, Toyota Center, Kennewick

Tickets: Single day — $10 adults, $8 students/senior citizens. All tournament — $16 adults, $11 students/senior citizens.

2015 champion: Curtis

Friday’s opening-round schedule

8 a.m.: Monroe vs. No. 5 Kentwood, court 1

8 a.m.: No. 8 Curtis vs. No. 1 West Valley of Yakima, court 2

8 a.m.: No. 7 Tahoma vs. No. 3 Mead, court 3

8 a.m.: No. 6 Puyallup vs. Bothell, court 4

9:45 a.m.: Auburn Mountainview vs. Lake Stevens, court 1

9:45 a.m.: Eastmont vs. No. 2 Auburn Riverside, court 2

9:45 a.m.: Graham-Kapowsin vs. No. 9 Richland, court 3

9:45 a.m.: Issaquah vs. No. 4 Bellarmine Prep, court 4

Rest of schedule

Friday quarterfinals at 5 p.m. Saturday semifinals at 1 p.m. Saturday championship match at 7 p.m.

LOCAL TEAMS

Auburn Mountainview: With Casey Davenport setting and Kiley Lewis on the outside, there’s reason for optimism. Lewis, a Boise State commit beach and indoor volleyball signee, is as dynamic as they come with 505 kills this season. Davenport, an Alaska-Anchorage signee, has 754 assists. The Lions have reached the state tournament 10 times the past 11 years.

Auburn Riverside: The Ravens attack teams from so many angles with All-Area player of the year Calley Heilborn, Anna Maracich, Kaytlyn Heaslip, Brianna Ingram and even setter Ciera Zimmerman. But Heilborn (432 kills, 355 digs) is the one taking over when the match is one the line. Two years removed from a 3A state title, they’re hoping this season ends with a 4A title.

Bellarmine Prep: Hannah Pukis (333 assists, 36 aces, 280 digs, 255 kills, 29 blocks) has much of the offensive skills her older sister, University of Portland’s Reghan Pukis, has. But the WSU commit doubles as the Lions’ primary setter and one of the team’s top servers and defenders. McKenzie Schwan, a powerful outside hitter, leads the team with 382 kills and 343 digs.

Curtis: The defending 4A state champions got a not-so-favorable first-round matchup with top-ranked West Valley of Yakima. But the Vikings might just have the balance to make another run, with Kasey Woodruff digging every spike defensively and 6-foot-1 Katie Yorke on the outside. And in a 4A SPSL filled with dominant setters, Haley Morton was among the best of them.

Kentwood: Two teams have beat Auburn Riverside this year. One was top-ranked West Valley of Yakima in the Linda Sheridan Classic, and the other is Kentwood. The Conks’ rely on their defense, led by two-time first-team all-league libero Aleina Gabriel. Kentwood finished second behind Tahoma in the 4A NPSL Cascade but finished third in the district tournament.

Puyallup: It was by no accident the Vikings won the 4A SPSL regular-season title, a league that includes each of the past five state champions (Curtis, Bellarmine three times and Olympia). Kaitlin Sugai (276 kills, 41 blocks, 22 aces) and Jordan Hunter (226 kills, 291 digs) are as tough an outside duo as there is, especially with Hunter’s passing on serve-receives.

Tahoma: The Bears have reached state five times in the past eight years, including a sixth-place finish in 2014 and eighth place last year. But the 4A NPSL Cascade champions are hoping to right the ship in state with three losses their past six matches. Emily Smith, the Cascade MVP, averages 3.1 kills per set, which was fourth best in the league, and Ginny Mehl is a standout middle blocker.

DARK HORSE

West Valley of Yakima: No one has figured out unbeaten West Valley so far this year. Not two-time Columbia Basin Big Nine player of the year Jillian Berg, 6-foot-4 sophomore middle blocker Shea Rubright and 6-foot-1 left-handed Parker Webb, a Portland State signee. West Valley is 58-1, over the past two seasons.

CLASS 3A STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS

Friday-Saturday, Toyota Center, Kennewick

Tickets: Single day — $10 adults, $8 students/senior citizens. All tournament — $14 adults, $11 students/senior citizens.

2015 champion: Kennedy Catholic

Friday’s opening-round schedule

11:30 a.m.: Ferndale vs. Mercer Island, court 1

11:30 a.m.: Kamiakin vs. Gig Harbor, court 2

11:30 a.m.: Roosevelt vs. Squalicum, court 3

11:30 a.m.: North Thurston vs. Mt. Spokane, court 4

1:30 p.m.: Holy Names vs. Capital, court 1

1:30 p.m.: Bellevue vs. Arlington, court 2

1:30 p.m.: Shorewood vs. Timberline, court 3

1:30 p.m.: Prairie vs. Lakeside of Seattle, court 4

Rest of schedule

Friday quarterfinals at 8:15 p.m. Saturday semifinals at 1 p.m. Saturday championship match at 7 p.m.

LOCAL TEAMS

Gig Harbor: Team captains Selena Dutton (187 kills, 206 digs) and Lauren Hatfield (193 kills, 188 digs) have been a dynamic 1-2 hitting punch for the TidesThey’ve combined for 380 kills and 394 digs this season, reeling off 18 consecutive victories to reach the state tournament. Libero Lindsey Skaanes has 224 digs.

North Thurston: The Rams held on for the No. 4 seed out of the WCD tournament after losses to Gig Harbor and Timberline, but get a tough draw in Mount Spokane, which hasn’t lost since midway through October. Olivia Fairchild, 6-foot-2, is the big presence at the net for the Rams, and has more than half of the teams kills.

Capital: The 3A West Central District playoffs were smooth for the Cougars until the championship game, when they ran into Gig Harbor, again. The Tides bested Capital three times this season. The good news for the Cougars? If they can work their way through the bottom half of the bracket, they won’t meet Gig Harbor again until the final.

Timberline: There was plenty for New Mexico State commit Julianna Salanoa to be excited about this week, but Timberline’s first trip to the state tournament in three years seems to have her the most elated. She had 14 kills and eight blocks to lead the Blazers to a third-place finish at districts over North Thurston.

DARK HORSE

Gig Harbor: Gig Harbor lost its season opener to defending 4A champion Curtis and hasn’t lost since. Second-year coach Melissa Klein is doing a lot of right this season, but state recently hasn’t been so kind to the Tides. They lost in the first round in each of their past two appearances (2014, 2012). Could this be the year they win their first state title?

CLASS 2A STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS

Friday-Saturday, Saint Martin’s University, Lacey

Tickets: Single day — $10 adults, $8 students/senior citizens. All tournament — $16 adults, $11 students/senior citizens.

2015 champion: Burlington-Edison

Friday’s opening-round schedule

9 a.m.: Burlington-Edison vs. Fife, court 1

9 a.m.: Pullman vs. No. 1 Tumwater, court 2

9 a.m.: Orting vs. No. 5 Ellensburg, court 3

11 a.m.: No. 4 Woodland vs. No. 9 North Kitsap, court 2

11 a.m.: No. 8 Steilacoom vs. Cheney, court 3

1 p.m.: Bellingham vs. No. 3 Ridgefield, court 1

1 p.m.: No. 6 Selah vs. No. 7 White River, court 3

Rest of schedule

Friday quarterfinals at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday semifinals at 1 p.m. Saturday championship match at 5:30 p.m.

LOCAL TEAMS

Fife: Few programs have the Trojans’ state experience. In the past 36 years, Fife has reached the state tournament 28 times. It comes in having barely lost to White River in the district title match and with one of the top middle blockers in the tournament in Madison Licari, a junior. They’re also led by junior setter Annika Linden and senior hitter Teagan Downs.

Tumwater: Are the T-Birds ready to make another title run after being upset by Burlington-Edison last year, on the way to a fifth-place finish? Well, here’s what happened last week. Gonzaga commit Kennedy Croft crushed her previous single-match kills record, with 46, to lead Tumwater to a district title an Maddy Pilon reset her own record with 68 assists.

Orting: The Cardinals are in the state tournament for the first time since 2003, but the program hasn’t won a state match since 1985. For that streak to end, Orting will need continued contributions from outside hitter Marin Sasaki and setter Sarah Fohn. The Cardinals lost two matches in the regular season – both to Steilacoom.

Steilacoom: The Sentinels rolled to the 2A SPSL Sound division title behind super sophomore Sophia Spoja, the division MVP who led Steilacoom with 184 kills, 67 aces, 11 blocks and 213 digs. Leilani Meneses played right side for two years before switching to libero out of need. She earned the league’s libero of the year with 307 digs.

White River: 2A SPSL Mountain division champions, 2A district champions – all that’s left is a 2A state championship now. Kendall Bird might be signed to San Diego for basketball, but she’s just as dominant as a lefty outside hitter. “She is a beast. Period,” coach Lina Randall said. Led team with 192 kills and 14 aces as the division MVP.

DARK HORSE

Tumwater: The top-ranked T-Birds were favorited to win it all last year before running into eventual state-champion Burlington-Edison. They enter as the favorite once again because of Croft. This is a team that already has wins this year over 4A teams Curtis, Emerald Ridge, Bellarmine Prep and Olympia.

TJ Cotterill: tcotterill@thenewstribune.com

Lauren Smith: lsmith@theolympian.com

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