The Ravens, who won state two years ago in 3A, dominated the 4A tournament, losing only one set in four matches.
KENNEWICK — The first one is always special.
But in many ways this state volleyball championship means more to Auburn Riverside coach Chris Leverenz — because the Ravens weren’t supposed to win it.
At least not in the eyes of many. While Riverside lived up to a lot of hype in winning the Class 3A title in 2014, this year’s team was considered an early darkhorse after opting up to Class 4A. The Ravens were picked fifth in the first state coaches’ poll of the season.
“People were thinking, ‘They’re OK. They’re not that good,’ ” Leverenz said. “We just got better and better and better, and I think that’s what makes it so special. No one would have thought going in that we would do it.”
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In fact, they did it emphatically with a 3-0 victory over No. 3 Mead of Spokane Saturday at the Toyota Center. Set scores were 25-21, 25-13, 25-18.
The Ravens (34-2) lost just one set in their four tournament matches — that to No. 4 Bellarmine Prep of Tacoma in Saturday’s semifinals.
The Panthers (23-3), who had lost to Riverside in the semifinals of the Linda Sheridan Classic last month in Spokane 2-0, looked strong early and led 11-9 before the Ravens adjusted their blocking scheme and took control.
“They played fantastic,” Mead coach Shawn Wilson said. “We didn’t have some answers for some of the things they were doing. They earned it. They played better than us.”
Junior hitter Calley Heilborn led the offensive charge with 18 kills and contributed 15 digs to a near-flawless Riverside defense, earning MVP honors.
“This is the best feeling in the world,” she said. “To come out here to play one of the best matches we’ve played all season, is just incredible.”
She and Clairice Buchanan are the lone holdovers from the 2014 title team. For Buchanan, a senior, this will be the one she always remembers.
“This one really touches my heart,” she said.
Junior setter Ciera Zimmerman, who transferred from Christian Faith in Federal Way this year, had a stellar tournament and joined Heilborn on the all-tournament team.
Mead was paced by junior Maddie Lee, who delivered 10 kills and also earned all-tourney honors. The Panthers, who have won seven state champions, were back in the title match for the first time since 2012, advancing with a 3-1 semifinal win over Kentwood of Covington.
Auburn Mountainview brings home trophy, t00
Kiley Lewis turned heads throughout the weekend.
And made a few duck, too.
The heavy-hitter who signed with Boise State showed she is among the top players in Washington, and helped her unranked Auburn Mountainview team prove doubters wrong with a fifth-place finish. The Lions opted up this year after previously playing in 3A.
“A lot of people doubted us since we were going into 4A, and they didn’t know how we were going to respond,” the 6-foot-2 Lewis said. “We just kind of pushed that aside and worked our hardest and it just paid off. I’m really happy.”
Mountainview (19-9) went 3-1 in the tournament, losing only to rival Auburn Riverside in the quarterfinals Friday.
Auburn Mountainview matched its previous best trophy finish (the Lions were also fifth in 2012) after taking seventh last year. The Lions eliminated No. 9 Richland 3-1 Saturday morning, thanks to Lewis’ 35 kills. She pounded 26 in the 3-1 victory over Bothell that gave them fifth place.
The Cougars (19-8) finished sixth – best in school history. They eliminated Curtis of University Place, last year’s champion, in a loser-out match to reach the trophy round. That ended a string of four straight trophies for the Vikings.
Bothell senior Sydney Cowan was proud of the team’s performance.
“It was one of the first goals we set at the beginning of the season to make it this far and to place in state,” Cowan said. “It’s a big deal because we’re the best team in Bothell history so far.”
Kentwood takes third
Their tournament run didn’t end the way they had hoped, but the Kentwood Conquerors still left with a feeling of satisfaction after earning the fourth-place trophy.
“Honestly, we tried as hard as we can,” senior Zvezdi Krasteva said. “Yeah, it sucks to lose, but to fourth place in the whole Washington state is still amazing.”
Kentwood (19-9) wound up losing two straight Saturday after reaching the semifinals, falling 3-1 to Bellarmine Prep to end the season. The Conquerors (19-9) started both matches strong, winning the opening set in each, then faltered.
But it was still an improvement over the 3-0 loss to Bellarmine in last weekend’s West Central District semifinals. And this is Kentwood’s best finish since the 2011 squad placed second to Olympia.
Third-place Bellarmine (26-5) took hardware home for the sixth straight year (the Lions won three straight titles from 2012-14).
Tahoma wins another trophy
No more Cinderella role for Tahoma of Maple Valley. When the Bears finished sixth in 2014, it was their first hardware since 1982. But Saturday’s seventh-place finish – with a 3-1 victory over No. 10 Lake Stevens – gave them a third straight trophy (they were eighth last year).
No. 7 Tahoma (24-6) won three straight after a first-round loss to finalist Mead, and eliminated top-ranked West Valley of Yakima in three sets Saturday morning. It was a stunning collapse for the once 27-0 Rams, who wound up 1-3 and failed to trophy for only the second time in the past seven years.
Senior Ginny Mehl – a three-sport standout – said the bar has been raised at Tahoma, and she expects the younger players to keep it there.”
“Coming here is an expectation now, and I feel they’re going to do great,” she said.
Lake Stevens (25-4) took eighth – the school’s first trophy since 1989 – and senior Gabby Gunterman was more than pleased.
“I’m so proud of how well we did,” she said. “No one expected us to be here.”
Calley Heilborn, Auburn Riverside, Jr. (MVP)
Kylie Lewis, Auburn Mountainview, Sr.
Maddie Lee, Mead, Jr.
Emily Smith, Tahoma, Jr.
Amanda Chan, Mead, Sr.
McKenzie Schwan, Bellarmine Prep, Sr.
Ciera Zimmerman, Auburn Riverside, Jr.
Hannah Pukis, Bellarmine Prep, Sr.
Aleina Gabriel, Kentwood, Sr.