The White River Hornets woke up Saturday morning with a chance to become Class 2A state volleyball champions. Instead, for the second consecutive year, they finished fourth in the tournament at St. Martin’s University in Lacey, falling to a resurgent Ridgefield, 3-1.
Meanwhile, Fife took fifth place with a determined five-set victory over a surprisingly tough Sehome.
“I can’t complain,” said White River coach Lina Randall after the Spudders came from a set behind to beat the Hornets, 21-25, 30-28, 25-23, 25-20. “We’ve had a great season. A lot of people would be happy with back-to-back fourth place finishes at state. We had higher expectations, but it’s OK, our girls loved each other through it.”
The Hornets dropped into the third-fourth place game after another four-set loss, this one to Burlington-Edison in the semifinals, 25-16, 25-20, 22-25, 25-18.
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Outside hitter Keegan Strobeck led the Hornets with 19 kills in the semifinals, while setter Hope Baldyga had 38 assists and libero Megan Vandergrift 28 digs. All are seniors.
“That was a very tough loss,” Randall said. “We really wanted to go to that final championship match (where Burlington-Edison ultimately met Lynden).”
Just as tough as the defeat were the conditions it created. The length of the Hornets match with Burlington-Edison meant that Ridgefield, which was handled in three sets by Lynden, got more minutes of rest for a match starting less than an hour after the end of the semis.
“That was really tough,” Randall admitted. “We were feeding our girls cookies on the bench trying to get them energized. It’s not supposed to be that way.”
The Hornets showed the strain, falling behind 8-1 in the first set before rallying to win it.
“We told them ‘hey you’ve got nothing to lose.’ Our motto all year has been ‘be fearless,’ ” Randall said.
The Hornets responded with the first set win and took a 23-20 lead in the second on an ace by Morgan Budinich. But with Ridgefield’s Anika Nicoll pounding down two kills and a block, the Spudders shot past to take the lead and ultimately send the set into overtime before winning the longest game of the tournament.
Ridgefield led the entirety of the third set, but White River made it close at the end on kills by Hannah Nelson and Baldyga. In the fourth, White River led by as many as six points early, causing the Spudders to use both their timeouts by the time the score was 11-5, but after three ties, Ridgefield pulled away.
Fife took fifth with 25-15, 26-28, 25-27, 25-18, 15-9 game scores. Cameron Hodges led the freshman- and sophomore-dominated Mariners with 11 kills and 28 digs while Haley Wilson had 35 assists.