I can’t remember a time when the Tri-Cities had more than two teams at the state high school volleyball tournament.
But beginning Friday, there will be three – Richland and Chiawana in Class 4A, Southridge in 3A – at the Yakima Valley SunDome.
Bob Raidl’s Bombers are returning to the state tournament for the third consecutive year. Richland is led by outside hitter Lindsey Rosenthal, who signed a letter of intent Wednesday to play next year for Seattle Pacific University.
Libero Alaina Lacey also signed a LOI on Wednesday, hers with the University of Idaho.
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Both Rosenthal and Lacey, along with junior outside hitter Sage Brustad, were named to the Mid-Columbia Conference’s first-team all-star squad.
The Bombers, who come in hot on a four-match win streak – including a 3-1 win over rival Chiawana last week in the District 8 championship – open tournament play at 8 a.m. Friday against North Creek.
Meanwhile, Chiawana head coach Jim Steach will be honored before the tournament by being inducted into the Washington State High School Volleyball Coaches Hall of Fame.
Steach collected his 500th career victory in October as a head coach, all compiled at Pasco and now at Chiawana.
His Riverhawks beat Richland 3-2 late in the regular season in their only meeting until the district title match.
They sit in opposite sides of the bracket at state.
Chiawana, which opens state play at 9:45 a.m. Friday against Puyallup, boasts four first-team All-MCC players in senior middle hitter Yaneli Garcia, senior setter McKenna Kaelber, senior libero Marissa Logozzo, and junior outside hitter Kylie Thorne.
Finally, Emily Otto’s first year as Southridge’s head coach resulted in an 8-6 MCC record. But four of those losses came at the hands of Chiawana and Richland.
The Suns have won three of their last four matches, including two over Hermiston in district play.
Senior outside hitter Sophia Sumner and senior setter Kennedy Conrad are the team’s top players.
Southridge opens state 3A play at 1:30 p.m., Friday against Wilson of Tacoma.
▪ Congratulations to Tri-Cities Prep, which went 2-2 and finished fourth in the State 2B tournament last weekend in Yakima.
It’s been a few great weeks for the Kamiakin Braves soccer team.
First, the Braves have powered through the first two rounds of the Class 3A state tournament bracket, pounding Peninsula 5-0 in the first round before blanking Shorewood 4-0 in the quarterfinals.
Then on Wednesday, the Braves’ leading scorer, Maddie Morgan, signed a national letter of intent to play next year for Eastern Washington University.
Teammate Britney Donais did the same, but with EWU’s Big Sky Conference rival, Northern Colorado.
There could be more to come.
But business first.
Kamiakin coach Chris Erikson’s Braves make a return to the final four for the second consecutive year, and they play Gig Harbor at 2 p.m. Friday in one semifinal at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup.
Erikson said last week that while she may have had Kamiakin teams that were more athletic, she hasn’t had one that plays so well together like this squad. It helps that a group of eight of them have been on club teams together since they were young.
They’ll need that cohesion, because even if they get past Gig Harbor, the other semifinal is also loaded with Prairie playing Holy Names Academy.
Prairie beat Mercer Island in the quarterfinals last weekend 2-1, while Holy Names edged Seattle Prep 2-1. Both Mercer Island and Seattle Prep and perennial powers in girls soccer.
And you thought cross country season was done after the state finals at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco on Nov. 3.
The Northwest Regional of Nike Cross Nationals was held last weekend at Eagle Island State Park in Idaho.
And the Kamiakin boys, who finished second last year as a team, won the title this time around.
The Braves scored 86 points, beating runner-up Central Valley (and last year’s team champ) by five points.
“It was stressful because of sickness and injury, but the boys came through anyway,” said Kamiakin coach Matt Rexus, whose team won the 3A state high school title in Pasco for the second straight year a few weeks ago.
Sickness and injury indeed.
One runner was sick enough not to run, so Rexus inserted another kid.
But it was junior Stanford Smith who stole the show. He was spiked 100 yards into the race, suffering a nasty gash and almost losing his shoe. But rather than stop, Smith kicked off the shoe and ran much of the race with just a sock on the foot.
Smith would finish 27th to give the team, running under the name Braves Soul, key scoring points.
Teammates Ryan Child (ninth) and Porter Grigg (26th) had key finishes.
The first-place finish qualifies the Braves for Nike Cross Nationals in Portland on Dec. 1.
“It will be our third trip (to Portland) since 2012 and second in a row,” said Rexus. “Just got to get healthy and see if we can have a nice high finish.”
In the individual race, Kennewick’s Johan Correa placed seventh overall, and Hanford’s Caleb Olson placed 10th among the 183 runners competing.
▪ Richland runner Bailee Carr signed with Colorado State University, where she’ll run cross country and track for the Rams.
▪ Richland lineman Eric Davison made things official by signing his letter of intent to play football at Utah State. But Davison is taking it a step further by graduating early and enrolling in Utah State in January. That’ll allow him to get a jump start with the Aggies in spring football.
▪ Chiawana’s 6-1 senior post, Clare Eubanks, signed a letter of intent to play basketball next year for Northwest Nazarene University.
▪ Walla Walla senior Noelani Helm, who was named the MCC’s Player of the Year in volleyball, signed her letter to play at the University of Portland.
▪ Sunnyside girls basketball standout Ashlee Maldonado signed her letter of intent to play for Santa Clara University next year in the West Coast Conference.
▪ Brock Ravet has been committed to Gonzaga University’s basketball program for well over a year. On Wednesday, the Kittitas senior made it official by signing his letter of intent for head coach Mark Few.
▪ Kamiakin girls basketball standouts Oumou Toure and Simone Brown officially committed to colleges Wednesday. Toure will go to Big East Conference school Butler University, while Brown – who missed last season with a knee injury – is headed to Central Washington University.
▪ Kamiakin baseball player Trystan Vrieling signed his letter of intent Wednesday to play next year for Gonzaga University.
Here is a list of area athletes who have signed with community colleges, or area schools that have signed athletes, for the 2019-20 season, in just the last few weeks:
Baseball: Gavin Ayers (Kamiakin) with Wenatchee Valley; Kody Bruton (Southridge) with Yakima Valley; Cameron Carlson (Southridge) with Yakima Valley; Jordan Chase (Kamiakin) with Wenatchee Valley; Joey Duberstein (Hanford) with Yakima Valley; Connor Ferguson (Capital, Boise) with Walla Walla; Zach Henricks (Irrigon) with Blue Mountain; Taylor Johnson (Richland) with Spokane; Kyren Morris (College Place) with Walla Walla; Jake Mulholland (Kamiakin) with Blue Mountain; and Easton Stevens (Kennewick) with Yakima Valley.
Softball: Haylee Brown (Mountain Crest, Utah) with Walla Walla; Meghan Kinsey (Southridge) with Mt. Hood; Jenna Mendoza (College Place) with Clark.
The Columbia Basin College men’s and women’s basketball teams open their seasons Friday with games on the road.
The CBC women, once again coached by Zach Wilde, travel to Yakima for a two-day tournament and open with Grays Harbor at 6 p.m. Friday.
The Hawks return Granger’s Alexis Castro and Hermiston’s Sara Ramirez, and they also have a number of talented freshmen, including Pasco’s Bella Gutierrez and Burbank’s Ali Martineau.
CBC’s home opener is Nov. 20 at 6 p.m., against Whatcom.
The CBC men, coached by Rolando Garcia, opened at College of Southern Idaho, with tipoff at 6:30 p.m., Friday.
Josh Brantley, a 6-2 guard from University High in Spokane, is one of the top veterans returning.
Gabe Voorhies, a sophomore from Southridge, is also back.
Condolences go out to the Pete Doumit family in Moses Lake. Doumit was a long time baseball coach in Moses Lake and was always happy to talk to reporters. Doumit, 69, succumbed to cancer.
He had three different coaching stints at Moses Lake High School, and two different stints at Big Bend Community College.
His teams always gave Tri-City schools fits in the old Big Nine Conference.
His son, Ryan, played in the major leagues for 10 seasons, most of them for the Pittsburgh Pirates.