The Walla Walla fans gave their volleyball team a standing ovation after its final match Saturday at the 4A state volleyball tournament at the Toyota Center.
The Blue Devils dropped the match 23-25, 25-23, 25-18, 25-17 to Eastlake, falling one win short of playing for a trophy, but they were making their first trip to state in 15 years, making them the talk of the town.
“Very few teams end on a win,” Wa-Hi coach Tracy Rotert said. “It’s important to remember everything we did to get here.”
After dropping their first match Friday, the Blue Devils (18-8) beat Jackson to advance to Saturday.
Things got off to a rousing start Saturday morning with Wa-Hi posting a 25-23 win in the first set.
From there, the wheels came off, so to speak.
Walla Walla held a 22-14 lead in the second set, bolstered by a string of five points by Noelani Helm, but the Wolves battled back.
Anna Ilstrup served eight consecutive points for Eastlake (26-5), taking a 24-22 lead. In that run, Walla Walla had five unforced errors.
Eastlake won the set with Tessa Woerner hitting off a Walla Walla block.
The third set featured eight ties, the last being 16-all before Eastlake pulled away for the win.
The fourth set began with a 1-0 Walla Walla lead, but that would be the Blue Devils’ only point for some time as Eastlake’s Woerner served 10 points in a row for an 11-1 advantage.
Walla Walla chipped away at the deficit, but couldn’t get any closer than six points (20-14).
“State is always hard, especially in the loser-out bracket,” Rotert said. “If we lose, we are done. It becomes more of not messing up instead of ‘I will win the ball.’ The heart was there, but no one wanted to be the one that messed up.”
Helm led the attack at the net with 16 kills, 14 assists and three aces. Sophomore sensation Hannah Hair added eight kills and seven blocks, while Jordan Wicklund had 22 assists, Kamryn Coleman 19 digs and Emma Wenzel two blocks and two aces.
Ilstrup had 14 kills for the Wolves, while Woerner had 23 assists.
WALLA WALLA 3, JACKSON 0: The Blue Devils, who lost their opening match, came back with a vengeance Friday night with a 25-11, 25-23, 25-22 victory over Jackson in a loser-out match.
“I am very proud of them,” Rotert said of her team. “They got rid of that awe of coming to state, settled in and played how we have played all season.”
After taking the first two sets, Wa-Hi trailed by eight points twice in the third before pulling into a 21-21 tie.
Hair put up a block on match point to keep the Blue Devils alive.
“We let them go on some runs,” Rotert said. “We got tense and our hitting got sloppy. It’s a mark of a good team to come back from that. Hannah loves blocking more than anything, and the team feeds off that.”
Hair finished with nine kills and five blocks.
“I love that she is mine and I have her for two more years,” Rotert said. “She gels so well with everyone and that makes our team that much better.”
Helm led the Blue Devils with 13 kills and 13 assists, while Coleman and Wenzel each had four kills and Wicklund 13 assists and seven digs.
LAKE STEVENS 3, RICHLAND 2: The Bombers lost their second five-set match of the day to the Vikings on Friday, bringing an end to a sterling season.
“The hard part is you don’t finish on your terms,” Richland coach Bob Raidl said. “We lost two five-set matches to good teams. We want it to be what we want, but it’s out of our control. You don’t want it to be done. That’s the hard part of life.”
Richland (25-4), which won its third consecutive Mid-Columbia Conference title this season with a 14-0 record, looked to be in control of the match, taking a 2-1 lead, but Lake Stevens rallied back for a 21-25, 25-19, 17-25, 25-22, 15-11 victory that ended just after 10:30 p.m..
The Vikings were eliminated by West Valley (Yakima) in five sets early Saturday.
Richland was in control of the third set from the start, and led 24-13 before the Vikings stopped the plundering. Lake Stevens staved off four set points before finally falling 25-17.
In the fourth, Richland’s last lead was 13-12. The Bombers would tie the score twice more, but could not regain control.
Richland led 3-2 in the fifth, then the Vikings took over for good.
Jordanne Bauder led the Bombers with 12 kills and six digs, while Hailey Daves and Lindsay Rosenthal each had 10 kills, Sage Brustad eight kills and 21 digs, and Lainie Lacey 35 digs.
“Jordanne gave us a lot,” Raidle said. “She is very, very competitive.”
Kiona-Benton was the only Mid-Columbia team to win a state trophy.
The Bears held off Castle Rock 22-25, 25-18, 13-25, 27-25, 15-13 to pick up the fifth-place trophy at the 1A tournament at the SunDome in Yakima.
“It has been a fun year,” Ki-Be coach Jolene Calzadillas said. “They never gave gave up. Can’t ask for more than that. I am very proud of them.”
It is the first state trophy in the four years Calzadillas has been with the Bears, and the first for Ki-Be since 2005 (2A).
Ki-Be opened the tournament Friday with a sweep of Overlake, 25-21, 25-22, 25-19.
In the quarterfinals, the Bears dropped a 25-15, 25-15, 25-23 match to Cascade, which advanced to the championship match.
The Bears came out Saturday morning with renewed life, beating Charles Wright Academy 23-25, 25-19, 26-24, 25-10 to reach the trophy match.
Kiona-Benton: Mahaela Edwards 64K, 15B, 74 digs, 50-53 servring, 4 aces; Maloree Calzadillas 41K, 42 assts, 65 digs, 40-42 serving; Gabby Edwards 23K, 65 digs, 5 aces; Nya Calzadillas 14K, 67 assts, 77 digs, 60-61 serving, 6 aces; Elzzy Gonzales 43 digs; Triniti Krisher 67 digs.