Late injuries, Charles Wright power too much for the Eagles who fall 3-1; North Kitsap, Crosspoint qualify for state

SILVERDALE — Certainly if effort and heart were a measuring stick to earn a berth to the state tournament, the Klahowya Eagles would have passed that test on Saturday at the 1A West Central District volleyball tournament.

But the game is played on the court and the Eagles needed a little more firepower to match the offense of Charles Wright Academy as the Tarriers eliminated the host school with a 3-1 win.

“It was a phenomenal season,” Klahowya senior Rachel Bailey said through her tears and nursing a split lip she received against the Tarriers. “Those games could have gone either way and those were great teams. I’m just so proud of everybody and I’m so glad I got to end it with these girls my senior year.”

Klahowya dropped into the elimination game after losing a hard-fought match against Cascade Christian 26-24, 23-25, 25-14, 25-17 in the tourney opener. That pitted the Eagles against Charles Wright, who had come into the tournament undefeated and a favorite to win, but the Tarriers lost a five-set battle to Bellevue Christian and had to turn around and take on Klahowya.

“We weren’t expecting that,” Klahowya coach Wendy Kraft said of facing Charles Wright. “We already knew what Cascade brought to the table (they had beaten Klahowya 3-1 earlier in the season), we knew we had to stop (Avaree DuMars) and we didn’t do that. If you can’t do that you don’t beat that team.”

One of the things the Eagles did well all season was adapt. So, when it looked like Klahowya would play Bellevue Christian, Kraft’s pre-match talk centered around the Vikings. Bellevue’s upset win was a crushing blow to the Tarriers.

The Eagles, who were anticipating becoming the first team in school history to qualify for state, looked like they might deliver the final blow to a punch-drunk Charles Wright team as they won the first set 25-21. But the Tarriers woke up — specifically hitters Nicole Kelly and Emerson Walker and Emma Wang — and won the next three sets 25-18, 25-19 and 25-9 to end Klahowya’s season.

Bellevue Christian went on to beat Cascade Christian 3-2 to win the district title while Charles Wright beat Cascade 3-0 to take the No. 2 seed.

While disappointed for her players, Kraft said taking two set wins off Cascade and CWA were big steps forward for the program.

“We didn’t win any sets last year,” she said. “Each year goes a little bit further than that is success. What I told my players was ‘if it didn’t hurt right now, then you weren’t working hard enough.’”

Senior libero Maile Lueck, a driving force behind the Eagles success with her phenomenal play in the backcourt, said the team felt the pressure to make school history.

“I think with everything that we went through today, with injuries and stuff, we played to our capability,” she said.

Bailey, fellow setter Anna Bell and outside hitter Katie Cooper were limited or out due to injury in their second match. 

“Oh gosh, it was one after the other,” Bailey said. “You know, you lose one and you’ve got to get that momentum back, but to drop like four at a time — that’s a lot of momentum you’re taking off the court.”

Bailey cut her lip on the court while going for a dig in the third set against Charles Wright and briefly left to get checked out. She returned with a growing fat lip but left again in the fourth set after taking another hard knock to the court and hitting her cheek.

Bell injured her ankle and limped off the court in the fourth set and Cooper was limited due to a sprained thumb on her hitting hand. Cooper said she injured it during practice leading up to the tournament and had it heavily taped.

“It’s unfortunate that we didn’t have any injuries during the season,” Kraft said, “ … to come in here and have Rachel go out and Anna go out and Katie have to be in and out of the game all the time it just wasn’t our night I guess,” Kraft said.

The Eagles will say goodbye to five seniors — Lueck, Bailey, Natalie Wise, Sarah Greene and Chloe Settle — who lifted the program to a 14-1 regular-season record and an OL championship. 

“The five senior are truly amazing leaders, each in their own way,” Kraft said. “It’s always sad to see a group of girls leave. They really wanted it.”

“We did the very best we can,” Kraft continued. “From a little 1A school who wants to win and never has, that’s the closest we’ve gotten so I can’t not be happy with that.”

Vikings secure return trip to state

The North Kitsap Vikings will make their ninth 2A state volleyball tournament overall, and seventh straight, after earning the fifth seed from the West Central District. 

North Kitsap beat Port Angeles 25-14, 25-13, 25-19 in its first elimination match Saturday at Franklin Pierce High School. The Vikings (18-2) then faced Olympic League foe North Mason (14-6) for the fourth time this season in a winner-to-state, loser-out match. The Bulldogs were coming off a 25-17, 25-15, 25-12 win over Foster. North Kitsap won in another epic showdown, 25-17, 24-26, 25-18, 25-21 to advance to state. 
The Vikings will play at 8 a.m. Friday against Ellensburg (15-1) at Central Washington University.

The Kingston Buccaneers (12-8) defeated Highline in a loser-out match, 25-14, 25-9, 25-20. The Bucs then took on River Ridge in a winner-to-state match, losing a close one 25-10, 25-20, 23-25, 25-22.

Crosspoint headed back to state

Facing elimination and a team they had just lost to earlier in the 2B Tri-District volleyball tournament, the Crosspoint Warriors swept aside the Darrington Loggers to earn No. 2 seed and a berth to the 2B volleyball tournament in Yakima Saturday.

The Warriors (13-5) lost to Darrington 3-1 last Tuesday in LaConner. But with a state trip on the line, the Warriors were not to be denied. Crosspoint won 25-23, 26-24, 25-16.

Crosspoint coach Ellen Baxter said the players knew they had to come out swinging, reduce errors and get an early lead and that’s exactly what they did.

“I knew in game two, second point, that we were going to win (Saturday),” Baxter said. ‘I had a chill run own my spine and I thought, ‘We’re going to Yakima!’”

Baxter said she snuck a look at the Darrington bench and saw defeat on some their faces.

“They were not expecting us to come to play today and they had already beaten us twice hit year,” she said. “We knew we could beat them if we cleaned up our errors. It was truly a spectacular thing to see how our girls applied themselves for this match.”

Whether it was the 18 assists and five aces from Mackenzie Anderson, the 18 digs, seven aces and five kills from Ella Anderson or the 26 digs and six kills from Maddy Jacobsen, Baxter said each player contributed.

Other stats include Kennedy Breda’s 13 digs and six kills and Addy Schmidt’s 23 digs.

This will be the Warriors fourth state appearance and second in the last three years. Crosspoint plays Toutle Lake (14-5) at 11:45 a.m. Friday at the Yakima SunDome.

ALSO: Bainbridge earned the seventh seed to the Sea-King District tournament Saturday. The Spartans, which lost to Lakeside 25-22, 25-21, 25-21 to get into a higher-seeding match, beat Nathan Hale 25-19, 25-17, 21-25, 25-22. They will play at 5:30 p.m. Thursday against Lakeside at Sammamish High School in a loser-out match. Bainbridge’s Julia Jakubik had eight kills against Nathan Hale while Ava Targett finished with five kills against Lakeside. … Central Kitsap will open the 3A West Central/Southwest District at Bonney Lake at 5:30 p.m. Friday. The Cougars would play at 7:15 p.m. with a win.

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