LACEY – There was every reason to fold.
Instead, Casey Schoenlein shook off the jitters and found the juice, pounding 17 of her 21 kills in the final three sets to lead second-ranked Newport of Bellevue to a 3-2 victory over No. 7 Central Valley of Spokane in the quarterfinals of the Class 4A state volleyball tournament Friday night at Saint Martin’s University.
“In the beginning, my game was just rough,” the WSU-bound senior said of the 0-2 start. “I had mental issues. But I decided to overcome them and play more fearless.”
And now the Knights (20-3) are in unchartered waters as they face No. 9 Curtis of University Place in the semifinals Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
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“We’ve broken a lot of traditions this year,” said the 6-foot-4 Schoenlein. “We won districts, never done that; we won our first game at state, never done that. So it’s kind of like this is our year.”
Curtis (19-6) hopes to prove otherwise after knocking off third-ranked Kentwood in another quarterfinal, 3-0. It was a dominating performance — 25-20, 25-23, 25-8 — and the Vikings appear to be peaking at the right time.
“At the beginning of the year, I thought we were a top-four team,” first-year coach Michael Miller said. “It just took us several weeks to come together.”
The other 1:30 semifinal pairs top-ranked Bellarmine Prep of Tacoma (33-0), the defending champion, against No. 6 Emerald Ridge of Puyallup (27-4). The winners play for the title at 8:15 p.m.
Bellarmine Prep is ranked No. 5 nationally by MaxPreps and No. 16 by PrepVolleyball.com. They’ve lost just two sets all season and breezed Friday against Rogers of Puyallup and fifth-ranked Snohomish.
“We’re all in sync with each other, and we’re having fun,” All-American Courtney Schwan said.
Kentwood was expected by many to battle Newport for a spot in the championship match. But the Conquerors (30-4) struggled most of the day and took a long time to get started in their opening 3-1 win over Bothell. They never got in a rhythm against Curtis and disappeared in the final set.
“It’s just disappointing,” coach Bil Caillier said.
Senior Sarah Toeaina couldn’t put a finger on it, either.
“We were just in a funk, I guess,” she said.
Bothell, Skyline and Rogers all bounced back from first-round losses and have trophy opportunities Saturday.
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