This is what Emerald Ridge has been waiting for.
Two seasons after a quintet labeled the “Super Sophomores” thrust the Jaguars into prominence among Class 4A volleyball programs, the remaining four — now seniors — helped show why they are ranked the No. 1 team in the state. Emerald Ridge’s win in the Kent Volleyball Classic included a 2-0 shutout of Capital in the title game, and perhaps more significantly, they knocked off two-time defending Class 4A state champion Bellarmine Prep earlier in the day at Kentlake High School.
“For us, Bellarmine is still the state champion until somebody beats them,” said Emerald Ridge co-coach Bobby McGivern, “and today we did.
“We’re going to build upon that and hopefully see them again down the road.”
Senior outside hitter Jenna Mullen, who led the championship match with 10 kills, said that prevailing against such dominant teams as Capital and Bellarmine makes “the ride” even sweeter.
“It’s always a good feeling to beat the people who are on top,” she said.
Against Capital, Emerald Ridge dominated the first set, quickly rolling to a 25-16 win. But their fatigue after a full day of play began to show in the second set as the Cougars kept things close, tying the game at 7-7 and then inching up to trail 22-20 before falling 25-20.
“We were up for the challenge,” Capital coach Natalie Rhodes said. “It felt like the first game we weren’t quite there, but we fought back in the second game and showed some great potential.
“We knew it was going to be high-caliber all day.”
Senior setter Isabella Zubrod contributed 25 assists for Emerald Ridge, while junior libero Allie Bauer added 11 digs and two aces.
Capital was led by senior outside hitter Rachel Erickson, with seven kills, and senior libero Marissa Ottesen with seven digs.
Erickson said she was proud that the Cougars could hold their own against 4A teams in their first appearance since moving back to Class 3A.
“We fought to get to this spot and show how hard we can play throughout the entire day,” Erickson said.
Bellarmine was knocked into the silver bracket after splitting with Capital and Anacortes in pool play and then falling to Emerald Ridge 25-21, 25-20 in the second round. They finished the day with a 25-18, 25-13 win over Skyview.
In the semifinals, KingCo powerhouse Skyline led 14-10 at one point and tied the game 20-20, but the Emerald Ridge put up the final five points to win 25-20. In the second set, junior Makenna Smith served up 12 consecutive points en route to a 25-11 win.
McGivern said that the seniors have driven the Jaguars to where they are today.
“We depend on their leadership,” he said. “And hopefully that will carry us through.”
In their semifinal, Capital, the No. 9 team in Class 3A, beat Columbia River 21-25, 25-8 and 15-11.