Those who follow South Sound high school volleyball may have thought this weekend’s Class 4A and 3A state tournaments would end with local powers Kentridge and Capital bringing home the biggest trophies from the Yakima Valley SunDome.
But, in the space of about 20 minutes Saturday afternoon, those expectations unraveled and two Eastern Washington volleyball programs shoved the presumed favorites of the court, off center stage, and into the consolation bracket.
Richland dominated 4A West Central/Southwest bidistrict champion Kentridge, which was previously undefeated, in straight sets (25-18, 25-20, 25-17) in the semifinals.
And Mount Spokane handed Capital, the defending 3A state champion which breezed through last week’s bidistrict tournament, its first loss of the season in a 3-1 win (15-25, 25-19, 25-12, 25-18).
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Kentridge, the state’s top-ranked team in 4A, which was also ranked ninth nationally by MaxPreps, absorbed the kind of blows it normally administers to opponents in the semifinal loss to the Bombers.
But, Chargers coach Eric Han wasn’t surprised by Richland’s talent.
“That was a good team. I think they were underrated,” Han said. “That’s why I don’t like my teams being talked about so much. I like my teams to come in with an underdog mentality. “
After a season with 16 shutouts, the Chargers needed five sets to claim the third-place trophy over Monroe (25-23, 25-23, 18-25, 21-25, 15-9), completing the program’s best tournament finish since 1990, when the Chargers were the state runners-up.
Capital looked like a state finalist in the first set against a Mount Spokane team that hasn’t lost since August, and went on to sweep Lakeside of Seattle for the title.
But, the Cougars then fell apart amid a flurry of miscues, every one of which the Wildcats seemed to make them pay for.
“Unfortunately, that was a game of our unforced errors,” Capital coach Katie Turcotte said. “We played our game in the first set, and the next three was about us making some unforced errors and not playing normal Capital Cougar volleyball.
“We knew we were going have a challenge, and we knew we would have to battle through it. Unfortunately, we didn’t do ourselves any favors.”
The Cougars rallied to punish a good Ferndale team in the consolation round, winning in straight sets (25-14, 25-15, 25-13) for third place.
“That is definitely the way we wanted to finish,” Turcotte said. “We wanted to go out and play and have fun together. Our focus for this last match was to go out and honor the opportunity to get to play one more time as this team. Just go, play loose and have fun.
“I think our emotions were really positive. They never felt tense like, ‘Oh, we’ve got to do this.’ It was really just a nice, smooth steady ride through that last match.”
Capital was the only South Sound team to advance to a trophy game in 3A. Wilson was eliminated by Prairie in four sets (26-24, 16-25, 19-25, 19-25) earlier in the day.
Elsewhere in 4A, Tahoma topped Olympia in four sets (25-15, 25-14, 25-19) for fifth place, while the Bears finished sixth.
Tahoma swept Camas earlier (25-18, 25-12, 25-14) to advance to the trophy match, while Olympia ended Puyallup’s season short of hardware in straight sets (25-20, 25-12, 25-22).
Kennedy Catholic was eliminated in the morning consolation round by Lake Stevens in four sets (25-17, 10-25, 19-25, 20-25).