The top-ranked Chargers, at state for the first time since 2001, face Richland in the state semifinals.
YAKIMA — They are playing like the hunters, not the hunted.
Sure, the Kentridge Chargers are the top-ranked Class 4A volleyball team in the state and ranked No. 9 in the nation (according to MaxPreps.com). But they prefer the underdog role, and it’s serving them well.
Kentridge (24-0) won both of its matches at the state tournament Friday in the Yakima Valley SunDome to advance to the semifinals. They play No. 3 Richland (30-2) at 1 p.m. Richland got there by sweeping No. 2 Tahoma.
The other 1 p.m. semifinal pits unranked Monroe (26-5) against No. 4 West Valley of Yakima.
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After the Chargers zapped Camas 3-0 in the quarterfinals, star hitter Zaiah Calvin referred to her team as the underdog.
“Even though we have these high rankings, we still come in humble and we still come in as a lower team,” said Calvin, who put together 16 kills and 12 digs against the Papermakers. “There are other teams that want our spot.”
Monroe would be one of them, especially after pulling off a 3-2 victory over No. 6 Puyallup in the quarterfinals. The Bearcats have won eight in a row since a late-season loss to No. 5 Lake Stevens, which is on the consolation side of the Class 4A bracket after a first-round loss to Tahoma.
Kentridge is back at state for the first time since 2001. The lack of experience showed early — and we’re talking early. The Chargers drew one of the 8 a.m. openers against a familiar foe, NPSL-rival Kennedy Catholic.
The Lancers earned the seventh and final berth out of the West Central/Southwest District bi-tournament after battling injuries, but were back to full strength and showed it out of the gate, winning the first set 27-25. That was only the 11th set Kentridge had dropped all season, and just the second opening set.
Rather than fade, the Chargers bolted back and swept the next three sets to advance.
“It was definitely a wake-up call,” Calvin said. “It showed us that Kennedy wanted it. We had to prove to ourselves that we wanted it more.”
Kennedy Catholic (18-9) bounced back to eliminate Issaquah 3-1 and plays Lake Stevens (27-3) at 9 a.m. Saturday with a spot in the trophy round at state. Kamiak (17-10) is still alive on the consolation side, facing No. 7 Chiawana of Pasco at 9.
Lakeside of Seattle is still in the chase for its second Class 3A title in three years.
But getting there won’t be easy.
The seventh-ranked Lions (22-8) face No. 1 Ferndale (23-1) in the semifinals Saturday at 1 p.m. No. 2 Capital (20-13), the defending champion, faces No. 2 Mount Spokane (23-2) in the other semifinal.
“This team deserves it,” Lakeside coach Jeff Kim said of the 2-0 tourney start. “They’ve been working hard all year.”
Three other Metro League teams — Eastside Catholic, Roosevelt and Seattle Prep — are alive in the consolation bracket along with a pair of WesCo squads, Snohomish and Stanwood.
- Auburn Riverside was a longshot to win a third straight Class 4A title. The Ravens lost several key players — including Calley Heilborn, last year’s tourney MVP and the Star Times Player of the Year. Plus longtime coach Chris Leverenz, who started the program when the school opened in 1995, has been on a personal leave of absence all season. They got off to a good start against Monroe Friday morning, taking the opening set, but couldn’t keep pace as the Bearcats swept the next three. AR was eliminated 3-0 by Chiawana.
- North Creek of Bothell has had a season to remember, reaching the tournament as just a second-year school — but it ended with two straight losses Friday.