Volleyball: Young Southridge squad exceeds expectations

November 7, 2012 

With no seniors on this year’s team, many assumed Southridge volleyball was a year away from competing at the state level.

They were wrong.

The Suns open play in the Class 3A state volleyball tournament at 9:45 a.m. Friday against Timberline (Olympia) at Saint Martin’s University in Lacey.

“I’m honestly just really excited to go show everyone what we are made of,” junior Kimberly Brinkworth said. “Everyone is expecting next year to be our year, and we want to show them that we can have both years.”

Brinkworth leads a solid group of players, including fellow juniors Kylie Fraga and Emma Spurlock.

The Suns beat archrivals Kennewick and Kamiakin last weekend to advance to the third state tournament in program history.

“The girls are very excited,” Southridge coach John Lengphounpraseut said. “They know what they are up against, and at the same time, they are pretty focused about where they want to go.”

Where they’d like to go is onto the trophy stand. Southridge never has earned a trophy at the state tournament, but that could change this weekend.

The Suns will face a Timberline team playing a virtual home game, but it shouldn’t faze them.

“We have been pretty good road warriors this season,” Lengphounpraseut said. “It is kind of an interesting team -- we play better on the road than at home.”

Lengphounpraseut said Jordan Mix and Makenna Behrens, along with Spurlock, were big keys to the Suns advancing out of the Class 3A regional tournament in Spokane.

• Class 1A tournament: The Connell Eagles are back in the state tournament after a one-year hiatus.

The Eagles lost in the SCAC district opening round and had to play two elimination matches to earn a state berth.

In the first elimination match, Connell survived a two-hour slugfest with Columbia (Burbank) that included a 35-33 fourth set won by the Eagles.

“They didn’t give up,” Connell coach Kate Johnson said. “The girls had a goal in mind, and it was to make the state tournament.”

The next goal the Eagles have is getting a trophy.

The Eagles will play Life Christian (Tacoma) at 9:45 a.m. Friday on Court 5 at the SunDome in Yakima.

Connell has earned three trophies, the last in 2007 when it took second.

“It is very exciting just to be back at the Dome and getting to compete for a place,” Johnson said. “I think they are playing strong together as a unit. They are excited and are just on fire to compete this weekend.”

Michelle Schultz and Kennidi Whitby are the lone seniors on the squad, which won the SCAC East regular-season title.

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