LACEY — When the mindset is right for the Holy Names volleyball team, Cougars head coach Karli Gordulan knows her team is tough to beat.
The Cougars unleashed a pair of dominating performances on the first day of the Class 3A state tournament at Saint Martin’s University. Holy Names powered into the state semifinals with a three-set quarterfinal sweep of Meadowdale of Lynnwood 25-11, 25-22, 25-22 and gets a date with Columbia River, which outlasted Seattle Prep to reach the semis.
“This year, we have a lot of new girls on the team, a lot of girls who hadn’t had a lot of playing time last year, so we felt like we were starting from scratch a little bit,” said Gordulan, the Cougars’ first-year coach whose team improved to 29-10. “We had to get our right combination going. We feel confident in it now.
“Our defense has been good. We picked up a lot, whether it’s a hard angle or down the line. Our middles and outsides have all been hot. We’re using four to five hitters, which is really nice.”
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Fourth-ranked Mercer Island (21-2) survived an early challenge from Shadle Park to advance to the semifinals to meet a formidable foe, Southridge, the top-ranked 3A team in the state. The Islanders lost the first set to Shadle 27-25, but stormed back for a 25-19, 25-22 and 25-13 victory.
“We definitely should not have lost that first set, after being up 24-19,” MI coach Susan McKay said. “We just got complacent and lazy. That was a huge mental letup that we can’t have happen again.
“We felt like we were given a fair seed and we need to take advantage of it . We’re ready. We’re assuming we play Southridge at some point. If we want to win, we have to beat Southridge.”
In the other state quarterfinals, Columbia River outlasted Seattle Prep 25-27, 25-13, 27-29, 25-19, 18-16.
Unranked Meadowdale pulled off the biggest shocker in the opening round by knocking off No. 2 University of Spokane in three quick sets 25-12, 25-16, 25-19.
Top-ranked Southridge of Kennewick, which settled for third place in 2012, cruised past Bishop Blanchet 25-13, 25-22, 25-12 and the Suns beat Oak Harbor (11-14) in the quarterfinals 25-12, 25-14, 25-16 to move into the semifinals.
The Suns (28-1), who feature Mid-Columbia Conference MVP setter Kylie Fraga, face the Shadle Park-Mercer Island winner at 3:15 p.m. Saturday.