Let’s wrap up fall sports, for the most part.
The Mid-Columbia had a couple of teams that shined at the state level last weekend in Richland volleyball and Kamiakin girls soccer.
Neither won the state title, but they showed they were among the state’s best.
Richland volleyball coach Bob Raidl knew he had a good team this season.
“I think we had the best team balance and chemistry we’ve had here at Richland,” he said. “And I think we had the most really good players of all of the teams in the state.”
The Bombers’ record showed it, as they finished the season with a 31-3 record.
Only West Valley of Yakima was better in Richland at last weekend’s state 4A tournament in the Yakima Valley SunDome, as the Rams beat the Bombers 3-1 in the championship.
That followed 3-0 Richland sweeps of North Creek, Tahoma (a team that beat Richland in October), and Kentridge.
That second-place state finish is the best ever by a Richland team, topping its eighth-place finish in 2012.
It may not have felt great after the loss, but by Tuesday’s team dinner, Raidl said everyone understood how great of a season it was.
“After the loss Saturday, I talked to them,” he said. “But I don’t know if they heard me then. They were extremely upset. I told them how proud I was of them. By Tuesday’s dinner, the team-ness was back.”
The Bombers graduate six from this squad — Jordanne Bauder, Sarah McKenna, Abigail Sorensen, Sydney Jenkins, Alaina Lacey and Lindsay Rosenthal. But captain Hailey Daves and Sage Brustad, both juniors, will return.
“We have a bunch of good volleyball players coming back,” said Raidl. “And we had a really good JV team. So the cupboard is not bare.”
Most of these girls, Raidl adds, are good friends.
“We had a lot of girls who worked hard in practice but played very little,” he said. But even those extra few weeks of postseason practice will be a benefit to next year’s team.
“Absolutely,” said Raidl. “There aren’t any secrets. It’s about repetition and feedback from coaches. (Getting those extra postseason weeks) was like getting a whole other season.”
▪ Special shout out to the Chiawana volleyball team, which finished eighth in its first-ever state tournament.
Kamiakin girls soccer
Chris Erikson, in her 33rd year as Kamiakin’s head coach, saw her team finish third in the Class 3A state tournament with a 19-2-1 record.
That included losing a 2-1 heartbreaker to Gig Harbor — which won the title and finished 24-0 — in overtime in the semifinals.
The Braves got their lone goal in the first 20 minutes, and Erikson said the growing pressure to keep the lead late in the game was tough.
“It’s tough to hang onto a 1-0 lead,” she said. “I tried to keep the team refocused.”
She told the team after the semifinal that she was disappointed — not in them, but in the loss. But what she saw 24 hours later got her excited again.
“They were bouncing back by themselves,” Erikson said. “They wanted to win their final game of the season. I’m proud of them. They all said ‘We’re going to win this game.’”
And they did, beating Prairie 3-0 to place third. It was the second consecutive third-place finish for Kamiakin, a team that loses seniors Rylie Clark, Izzy Conover, Britney Donais, Sarah Ensign, River Holle, Emma Johnson, Maddie Morgan Bela Nicacio, Brielle Schneider and Kaeri Ward to graduation.
For Erikson, after a break, she’ll be excited about getting ready for next season.
“We only have three juniors back, but we have a good sophomore class, and from what I hear, a really good club team coming up for the freshman next year,” she said. “We seem to re-stock each year.”
In 33 years at Kamiakin, Erikson’s teams have placed second in state three times (1994, 1999 and 2013), third place twice (2017 and 2018), and fourth place three other times (1992, 2006 and 2009).
“I still love the challenge of the game,” said Erikson. “I’ve really enjoyed scouting the last two years.”
She and her husband Lloyd love to spend their own time driving around the state, watching potential opponents. “I finally figured out that scouting is the best way to prepare,” she said. “It makes me feel more competent. We drove to seven games this year: to the west side four times, and to Spokane three times. It’s kind of like our vacation.”
The Mid-Columbia’s lone prep football team still alive in the postseason is Royal, which is riding a 53-game win streak that began in 2015.
But don’t talk to Knights’ head coach Wiley Allred about that —yet.
“It’s not what we’re worried about,” said Allred. “We need to focus on what’s in front of us.”
That would be Colville (9-2), which plays the Knights (12-0) at 1 p.m. Saturday at Lions Field in Moses Lake in a Class 1A semifinal.
“We know we’re facing our toughest opponent all year,” said Allred. “We’re a little banged up, but we’ll do our best.”
Allred’s Knights have come up against Colville in the past, winning two of three contests over the years. Past Indians teams have dominated with the running game.
But this year’s Indians have 6-2 quarterback John Knight.
“They do everything well,” Allred said. “But now they like to both run and pass. And they use (Knight) well.”
Royal will answer with guys like QB Sawyer Jenks, WR-DB Angel Farias, and RB-LB Alonso Hernandez. If they can get past Colville on Saturday afternoon, Allred and his staff can hang around at Lions Field “to relax and scout” the second semifinal, set for 4 p.m., between Lynden Christian and Newport.
And when the season finally ends, whether Saturday in Moses Lake or next weekend in the state championship in the Tacoma Dome, Allred will then take time to appreciate the win streak whether it’s still going or not.
“Whether it’s 53, 54, 55 wins, I’ll take a look at it then,” he said. Meanwhile, he’s got a game to prepare for.
▪ Kudos to the state football seeding committees that set the brackets a few weeks ago for football. They are currently hitting on a .708 percentage of how teams are ranked in all classifications so far.
Based on the rankings, the final four teams in each tournament should have the 1 through 4 seeds still playing.
And 17 of the remaining 24 teams are ranked that high. The committee that ranked Class 3A is perfect with a 4-for-4 lineup.
Class 1A, which has No. 1 Royal, No. 5 Colville, No. 6 Lynden Christian, and No. 10 Newport.
High school basketball practice has been going on since Nov. 12, and the season openers for many schools are next week.
Tuesday marks the first day for some area teams to start playing, including a Southridge at Richland 7:30 p.m., tipoff that is actually a Mid-Columbia Conference contest.
That rarely ever happens —a conference game as your opener — but the Bombers needed to do it because they are headed to Orem, Utah, from Dec. 6-8 for the Free Tax USA Shootout tournament.
Other Tuesday openers for the boys have Kamiakin at Lewis & Clark in Spokane, Davis at Chiawana, and Hanford at Eisenhower.
On the girls’ side, the lone Tuesday opener features Hanford at Eisenhower at 5:45 p.m. Boys will follow at 7:30.
▪ Wrestling gets going Saturday with a takedown tournament at Walla Walla for both boys and girls. The boys will get going in earnest on Tuesday, when Pasco visits Kamiakin at 7 p.m., for an MCC match.
On Thursday, Hanford visits Walla Walla, Pasco is at Kennewick, and Hermiston visits Southridge. All start at 7 p.m. Wrestling fans are excited with Hermiston joining the MCC, as it has been a perennial power for years in Oregon.
▪ Girls bowling is off to a rousing start, with 5-0 Kennewick and 4-0 Pasco at the top of the nine-team MCC. Walla Walla sits in third at 3-2.
Next Thursday, Kennewick visits Pasco at 3:30 p.m., at Go Bowl Lanes in the first big matchup of the season.
Pasco boasts three bowlers who have topped 200 in a game so far — Brandy Castaneda (224), Brisa Fraire (214) and Dani Leal (204). Kennewick has two to hit the mark — Paige Harns (210) and Aydri Turnbull (203).
▪ Richland girls basketball standout Nicole Gall has signed to play women’s basketball for Northwest Nazarene University. Gall averaged 11.3 points a game for the Bombers last season.
▪ Liberty Christian softball player Jasmine Horne has signed to play at Yakima Valley College.
▪ Kamiakin sprinter Katherine Pesch has committed to Eastern Washington University’s track team. Pesch finished second last spring at the Class 3A state meet in the 100 meters.
▪ CBC baseball has signed Jason Tutton, a senior at Curtis High in Tacoma, to its program.
▪ Not a signing yet, but Chiawana senior Delaney Pink has announced that Warner Pacific College has offered her a scholarship to play for the women’s basketball team. Pink’s sister, Darbi, is a junior and playing for Warner Pacific.