The sister of Georgia QB Jacob Eason signed to play volleyball at Seattle U on Wednesday. She’s leading the Vikings back to state for a second consecutive season.
Lilly Eason likes to push the envelope.
Jump higher, get stronger, study harder — there’s no taking the easy way for Eason.
“I’ve always had my goals up on my wall and tried to focus on the bigger picture,” the Lake Stevens High School senior said.
When: Class 2B and 1B, Thursday and Friday. All other classifications, Friday and Saturday.
Where: Class 4A and 3A, Toyota Center, Kennewick; Class 2A, Saint Martin’s University, Lacey; 1A, 2B and 1B, Yakima Valley SunDome.
Follow along: For 4A and 3A, @SandyRinger1 on Twitter; @wiaawa for all classifications.
Top storylines: No. 1 Auburn Riverside goes for a second straight 4A title (third overall in four years, winning the 2015 3A crown), but will not have an easy road, opening against Skyline (regular-season KingCo champ) and possibly facing No. 3 West Valley of Yakima, which is hungry to redeem two straight disappointing state finishes. ... No. 10 Lakeside of Seattle is back to defend its 3A crown in what could be a wide-open field that includes fourth-ranked Roosevelt of Seattle, the surprise SeaKing champ. ... Other defending champions returning: No. 5 Tumwater (2A), No. 1 Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls) (1A), No. 7 Kalama (2B), No. 2 Oakesdale (1B).
Five players to watch: MB Shea Rubright, 6-5, Jr., West Valley (Yakima): Powerful Mississippi commit hopes to carry Rams to the top in 4A. ... OH Calley Heilborn, 6-1, Sr., Auburn Riverside: MVP of 2016 4A tourney does it all for defending champs (Western Washington commit). ... OH/L Kennedy Croft, 5-10, Sr., Tumwater: Coach’s daughter (and Gonzaga signee) seeks third 2A crown in four years. ... OH Zoe McBride, 6-0, Sr., Prairie (Brush Prairie): Two-time league POY is a 6-rotation player with multiple DI offers
L Kasey Woodruff, 5-7, Sr., Curtis (University Place): Defensive gem (Western Washington) has Vikings in the 4A mix again.
Favorites: 4A: Auburn Riverside, Mead (Spokane), West Valley (Yakima); 3A: Capital (Olympia), Ferndale, Mount Spokane; 2A: Burlington-Edison, Tumwater, White River (Buckley); 1A: Lakeside (Nine Miles Falls); 2B: Colfax, Mossyrock, Colfax; 1B: Pomeroy, Oakesdale.
Last: The 2B and 1B are Thursday /Friday (rather than Friday/Saturday) after the WIAA Executive Board voted to accommodate schools recognizing the Saturday Sabbath.
Maintain a 4.0 grade-point average with a challenging course load? Check.
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Earn a Division I volleyball scholarship? Check.
Increase her vertical jump and maximum weight lift? Check and check.
Lead the Vikings to their first Class 4A state volleyball championship?
Eason, a 5-foot-8 setter who signed Wednesday with Seattle University, can envision checking that off, too — if the 10th-ranked Vikings play to their potential Friday and Saturday at the Toyota Center in Kennewick.
“I definitely believe that,” she said.
Lake Stevens posted a 16-0 record for the second season in a row — minus results from two invitational tournaments where first-year coach Kyle Hoglund toyed with rotations (otherwise 19-4). The Vikings wore happy-to-be-there smiles at state last fall, their first appearance since 2012.
This trip is more businesslike.
“This year, it’s completely different, because we know we can go out there and we can compete with these teams,” said Eason, whose ultimate goal is to become a physician. “We made it here for a reason, and I think we’re ready to go out there and show them who Lake Stevens is.”
Leading hitter Hannah Aaenson concurs.
“Everyone has their eye on the prize,” she said. “We want to show people what we’re capable of and what we’re made of.”
Eason and Aaenson, All-WesCo first-team choices, are captains and close friends who feed off each other on the court.
“Lilly is one of the most passionate players I’ve ever played with,” said Aaenson, who is also one of Wesco’s top throwers in track and field. “She plays with a fire that is unmatched, and she leads the team both through her skills and mental toughness, and makes it fun as well.”
Eason calls Aaenson a “powerhouse” she can count on for the clutch kill.
“It’s so nice to have her as a go-to player,” she said.
Of course the Vikings have other weapons, and Eason is in her element running the show in the new 5-1 offense. She tried other sports when she was younger, but loved the dynamics of setting in volleyball.
“Setting is one of those things where you get to touch every ball and you get to set up your hitters, and it’s exciting to watch your teammates just crush the ball. You have a leadership role, and it’s very much like being the quarterback of the team.”
Did she say quarterback?
Yes, Lilly is the sister of quarterback Jacob Eason, who was the Gatorade National Player of the Year in 2015 as a senior at Lake Stevens and went on to start at Georgia as a freshman last season.
The two are close. Lilly remembers following him around when she was a kid and, as big Star Wars fans, having light-saber battles in the backyard. It’s a tight-knit family that includes oldest brother Bryon, a 2013 grad who wrestled for Lake Stevens.
Tony Eason, their father who played football at Snohomish and Notre Dame, said Lily is “every bit as competitive” as her brothers with the same will to win.
“She’s just tenacious,” he said.
Lilly is also more detail-oriented, especially when it comes to academics.
“It’s so important to her to excel and do well,” Tony said.
And this weekend, Lilly Eason expects nothing but the best for Lake Stevens.