The Lions haven’t lost since early in the season and now they are two wins away from a state title.
KENNEWICK — It took a while for the Lakeside volleyball team to find its identity this season.
But the Lions love their look today. So much so, that they can envision the Seattle school’s first Class 3A state championship.
They continued their second-half surge with two dominant victories on the first day of the tournament at the Toyota Center Friday, moving into the semifinals. Second-ranked Lakeside (21-8) dropped just one set, that in the opener against Prairie before blanking No. 7 Timberline of Lacey in the quarterfinals.
“It’s really exciting, because we’ve been working hard all season and it’s a great time to have our team be in the rhythm we’re in right now,” senior Kallin Spiller said. “With seven seniors, it’s kind of our last shot.”
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Coach Teron Uy shuffled lineups early in the year, in part due to an injury to senior Chloe Loreen, which forced her from her usual role as a heavy hitter into a defensive specialist.
The Lions took some lumps in a Las Vegas tournament, then lost a key Metro match to Eastside Catholic, 3-0 on Sept. 22. They haven’t lost since, knocking off then-No. 1 Mercer Island in the championship match of the SeaKing District tournament last Saturday.
Lakeside and MI could meet again — in the state-championship match Saturday night. No. 3 Mercer Island (21-2) moved into the semis with an impressive 3-0 win over No. 1 Gig Harbor.
But the first order of business will be the semifinals, set for 1 p.m. Mercer Island plays No. 4 Mount Spokane (21-6). Lakeside had to wait until nearly midnight to find out its opponent as No. 6 Capital (22-5) of Olympia held off No. 9 Bellevue 3-2.
Earlier, Bellevue (17-7) had the comeback of the day with a 3-2 victory over No. 5 Arlington in the opening round.
The Wolverines looked overmatched in the first two sets, then turned on the switch and dominated the next three.
First-year coach Vance Kalingo is used to his team’s heart-stopping ways.
“We have a habit of always starting slow,” he said, citing earlier 3-2 wins over Redmond and Eastside Catholic.
Mercer Island, eager to bounce back from the 3-1 district loss to Lakeside, started strong Friday with a 3-0 sweep of No. 10 Ferndale — although it was far from easy. The Islanders were pushed to 27-25 in the opening set and 33-31 in the third.
Mercer Island had won 15 in a row since an early season loss to 4A Bellarmine Prep of Tacoma, then played tentatively against Lakeside at district.
“Coming in, we just told ourselves we had nothing to lose,” senior setter Natalie Robinson said. “It’s fun to be the underdogs, because we can come in and play relaxed and aggressive.”
• Roosevelt, making only the second state appearance in school history, bolted out of the chute with a 25-20 win over Squalicum. But the Roughriders couldn’t keep the momentum and dropped the next three sets to fall into the consolation bracket.
• Holy Names, in what was considered a rebuilding year by many, went 1-1 on opening day and still has a shot at a trophy.