Mount Si rolls into post-season

SNOQUALMIE - The Mount Si girls volleyball team heads into this week's Kingco tournament on a down note having lost three straight matches in a row.

Last Monday the Wildcats were whacked by a strong Newport Knights squad in four games, 25-10, 25-19, 16-25 and 25-16.

"I have to tip my cap to Newport. They played well, and I believe they should have been playing that way all year," said Mount Si coach Bonnie Foote in an e-mail. "If they keep it up, they will be contending in the district tourney."

The only bright spots for Mount Si were in game three, and if the play of these players was any indication, the future looks good. Sophomores Alisha Larion, Danielle Rehm and Rachel Brun played key roles in that game-three victory. Brun contributed two aces, two kills and six digs to the overall match effort to lead the effort.

Seniors honored before MI game

On Senior Night last Wednesday, prior to their final home game of the season against the Mercer Island Islanders, Mount Si honored a total of seven individuals who will be leaving the program after this season. In addition to players Alicia Elmore, Molly Stout, Amanda Frost and Erin Caldwell, the team's two senior managers and exchange student Ayana Hara, who has played a very important role in the Wildcats' success this season, were also honored in the pre-game festivities. Also on hand for the match were two University of Washington players including starter Courtney Thompson. Thompson is a Kentlake graduate who Foote coached when she was younger.

In the match, the Islanders came out on fire, but Mount Si made things very interesting late before running out of gas in four games. Scores were 25-21, 25-14, 18-25 and 25-21 in favor of MI.

"Mount Si just started playing really well and really consistently, and we didn't late, so we were lucky we got out of it in four," said Islanders coach Dino Annest.

Mercer Island rolled out to a 6-0 lead in game one and never looked back. Although the Wildcats tried hard to come back, the best they could do was nip at MI's heels. An Islander kill sealed the first game. MI continued its domination in game two, going on an 12-2 run midway through the frame to take care of things. The Wildcats forced the Islanders to the fourth game point before MI successfully fought off the challenge with a kill.

At the start of the third game, it appeared that the Islanders were on their way to an easy three-game match sweep. The Wildcats, however, were able to tie the stanza at 11-11 and then took the lead, nursing the slim advantage until they could pull away late. An ace by junior Noel Walter brought new life for Mount Si and the Wildcats continued to put pressure on MI in game four, getting their lead up to as high as 11-5. MI eventually tied it, and was able to take the lead late and go on a 4-0 run to seal the match.

"We just made some really crucial mistakes at the end, and unfortunately the mistakes hurt us," said Foote.

The postseason starts Thursday with the Kingco Tournament at Liberty High School in Renton. Larion thinks its time for her team to open a new chapter.

"I really see this tournament as a new start. You know, it's time for us to just get our game together; we have a few days of practice and just really go out there and prove ourselves. We want to make it far, and I really think we will if we just try really hard and have a lot of heart," said Larion.

Mount Si plays their first match at 5:30 p.m., Thursday. They play again Saturday at noon or at 2:30 p.m., depending on Thursday's performance. Admission is $6 for adults; $4 for students with a valid ASB card. Five of six teams competing advance to the SeaKing District Tournament, and while Mount Si is likely to get in to districts, it will not be easy since they open with host Liberty and then would face Issaquah should they beat the Patriots. Sammamish also lurks as well; the Wildcats lost to the Totems to open the new Mount Si gym back in September.

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