High School Sports

Gonzaga commit big in battle of area’s best volleyball programs: Tumwater and Bellarmine Prep

Top performer: Kennedy Croft, Tumwater

36 kills, 25 digs — in 3-2 win over Bellarmine Prep

Tumwater 3, Bellarmine Prep 2: This was a heavyweight bought.

So of course it came with dramatics.

Two of the best volleyball progams in the South Sound went at it on Wednesday and the Thunderbirds rallied in the final two sets to win it 25-21, 20-25, 15-25, 25-23, 15-12.

Kennedy Croft, the Gonzaga University commit and daughter of coach Tanna Otton, was scintillating, finishing with match highs in kills (36) and digs (25).

How good are these programs? In the past decade they’ve combined to go 47-19 in their respective state tournaments with five state titles (three for Class 4A Bellarmine Prep and two for 2A Tumwater).

And both teams have packed their nonleague schedules. It was Bellarmine’s second consecutive loss after falling to West Valley of Yakima, 3-0, on Friday.

Defending 2A champion Tumwater has one more 4A opponent remaining before it heads to the Kent Classic. It opened the season with a 3-0 loss to Curtis before beating Olympia on Sept. 7 and now Bellarmine.

The T-Birds got off to a 1-0 lead with a 25-21 victory in the first set, but Bellarmine bounced back, cruising to take the next two sets to pull within one more set victory of a match victory.

Tumwater then made its big comeback. But Bellarmine’s Hannah Pukis, a Washington State commit, did it all. She finsihed with 15 digs, 15 kills and 20 assists. Reese Carpenter added 14 digs and Rylee Born had 14 digs and 17 kills.

Tumwater next faces Emerald Ridge at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday. Emerald Ridge is coming off a 3-1 loss to Auburn Riverside, which beat Mead for the 4A title last year, after it couldn’t contain reigning TNT All-Area player of the year Calley Heilborn. The Western Washington commit had 20 kills and 21 digs and Colorado State commit Ciera Zimmerman had 41 assists, though Emerald Ridge’s Jadyn Mullen had 33 assists and 20 digs.