LACEY –There’s no mistaking that this is Courtney Schwan’s volleyball team.
The all-everything, UW-bound senior is Bellarmine Prep’s heart and soul, and a key reason the top-ranked Lions captured a second straight Class 4A state championship with a 3-2 victory over No. 9 Curtis Saturday night at Saint Martin’s University.
But Schwan was not the only reason.
The two-time tournament MVP pounded 25 kills, but got plenty of help as the Lions (35-0) showed their depth and versatility.
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“You’ve got to look all the way down the bench,” coach Jody DeGroot said. “Our girls were on fire from No. 1 to No. 13… It’s the whole crew.”
Both she and Schwan had high praise for middle hitters Claire Martin (six kills, six blocks), Megan Jacobsen (10 kills, three blocks) and Emily Newberry (six kills, six blocks). It was a Newberry stuff that ended the match, 15-9.
“We definitely distributed the ball, and our middles were killing it the whole time,” Schwan said.
Curtis (20-7) did what no other team had been able to accomplish all season — push the Lions to five sets. Bellarmine, rated as high as No. 6 nationally, had lost just two sets all season. The team looked untouchable through the first three rounds and blew past a very good Emerald Ridge team in the semifinals, keeping the Jags in the teens in each set.
But the Vikings, who lost 3-0 to Bellarmine at the West Central/Southwest Bi-District tournament a week earlier, would not be intimidated.
“We thought we could beat them,” said senior Janell Sparks, who finished a spectacular tournament with 32 kills. “We just came together and worked hard and did the best we could.”
Curtis won the second and fourth sets and even though the Lions’ mantra all season has been “take the fifth” – they’d never been in position to have to do so.
Schwan said her confidence never wavered.
“I had faith in my team from the very start,” she said.
Emerald Ridge had high hopes after a disappointing 1-2 showing at last year’s tournament.
The Jaguars lived up to them, beating Newport to take third.
“I’m very proud of them,” co-head coach Bobby McGivern said. “At the start of the season, we set a goal to be in the top four at state, and they did that.”
The Knights (20-4) wound up losing two straight after reaching the semifinals, but WSU-bound Casey Schoenlein still walked off the court with a smile, knowing no other Newport team had ever finished higher.
“Big picture, we just made Newport history,” she said.
Third-ranked Kentwood (32-4) returned to form in its final two matches, bouncing back to take fifth place with a 3-2 victory over No. 8 Camas (29-10) after eliminating No. 7 Central Valley earlier in the day. The Conquerors wanted to finish strong for their coach, Bil Callier.
“It means everything to look over and see him happy and see him proud of us,” senior Lauren Hackett said. “He has a lot of extremes, and his extreme happy is just awesome.”
It was win-win when Skyline and Bothell took the court. Both had lost in the opening round, then battled back to earn trophies. No. 10 Skyline (20-5) won to claim seventh.
The Spartans were determined to earn a trophy after going home empty-handed last year.
“This is great,” tearful senior Molly Mounsey said. “We’re making up for last year.”
Sandy Ringer: 206-718-1512 or firstname.lastname@example.org