LACEY – It’s all about catching momentum. Ride the title wave.
That’s exactly what the Mercer Island High School volleyball team did, but it met a team in Holy Names that also was riding a strong wave of momentum.
The Islanders kept finding themselves in a hole, but each time they dug themselves out.
Fourth-ranked Mercer Island caught fire at just the right time and blazed home to the school’s first state title in volleyball with a 3-2 victory over the Cougars in the Class 3A championship match Saturday at Saint Martin’s University.
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The Islanders (23-2) won 21-25, 25-16, 23-25, 25-15, 15-13, taking three of the last four sets in the five-set duel.
“It’s all about momentum in games and about staying resilient and staying composed,” said 6-foot-2 senior Sara Lindquist, who pounded down 35 kills in the title match. “The first game and the third game (Holy Names) was tough. We had to make a decision as a team to come back, be composed and fight for every point.
“The momentum from the fourth game to the fifth game was huge.”
Holy Names (30-11) appeared to keep the upper hand most of the match until Mercer Island ignited its game. Mercer Island had to eliminate the hangover effect after beating top-ranked Southridge in five sets in the semifinals.
“After a huge win over Southridge, it was really hard to get our energy back at first,” said MI coach Susan McKay, a Mercer Island graduate who played on the school’s sixth-place state team in 1999. “We talked about it, but it was hard. Physically and mentally, we were exhausted from that semifinal match.
“When we were playing well, we were so on. It’s been my dream to do this since I was playing at Mercer Island.”
Lindquist also added 18 digs in the title match. Sophomore Jemma Yeadon added 20 kills and 15 digs. Natalie Robinson had 49 assists.
Maddie Howell led Holy Names with 35 digs, and Maeva Osemene finished with 37 assists. Angelou Dunton had 10 kills for the Cougars.
After being down 2-1, the Islanders and Lindquist made sure they got one final chance. MI led virtually from start to finish in the fourth set and kept Holy Names at bay to score a 25-15 victory and pull even at 2-2.
The Cougars had been blocking the Islanders well for the first three sets, but Lindquist got hot at the net and at serving.
Lindquist extended her team’s tenuous 6-5 lead to 15-5 with a run of nine consecutive serves, including three aces.
The Islanders kept finding Lindquist in the fifth and final set, and she delivered with kill after kill.
Holy Names continued its hot and streaky play in its Class 3A semifinal with Columbia River, rallying after losing set one and going down eight points in what turned out to be the decisive set four to win 20-25, 25-23, 25-22, 27-25.
Mercer Island kept coming back and coming back against top-ranked Southridge, which entered the semis 28-1, and the fourth-ranked Islanders were rewarded for their persistence with a 20-25, 26-24, 21-25, 25-19, 15-12 victory.
Top-ranked Southridge opened sluggishly in its consolation final for third and fourth places, but found a way to grit out a 3-1 victory over Columbia River to claim third place for the second consecutive season.
The Suns (29-2) bounced back from the disappointment of their semifinal loss to Mercer Island for a 25-27, 26-24, 25-21, 27-25 win over the Chieftains (19-8).
Led by nine seniors, Meadowdale wrapped up the school’s best state showing by collecting the fifth-place trophy. The Mavericks (23-8) peaked at the right time, beating fellow WesCo 3A member Oak Harbor 25-12, 17-25, 25-20, 25-18.
Kennedy (24-8) nearly completed a big comeback in set four — rallying from 17-9 down for a 23-21 lead — but ultimately settled for eighth place as Timberline (24-6) won 13-25, 25-16, 13-25, 27-25 to take seventh place.