Players and fans were treated to a matchup of epic proportions when Mount Si and Issaquah invaded the volleyball court in the winner-to-state, loser-out contest.
The rallies were long, players jumped high, hit the floor to save balls and twisted and turned their way through the five-setter on Nov. 16 at Glacier Peak High.
Issaquah (21-3) emerged victorious with a 25-13, 19-25, 25-20, 24-26, 15-12 triumph that sends the Eagles to the 4A state tournament at the Yakima SunDome on Nov. 22-23. Mount Si finished its season with a 15-6 record.
It was the third five-setter between the teams this season, with Issaquah winning out, 2-1, in the most crucial game of the season.
Issaquah head coach Tami Reese praised the Wildcats for their solid performance against the Eagles this season.
During the second set, Mount Si took a 16-14 lead when outside hitter Bailey Showalter hammered a kill off an Issaquah defender, and the ricochet hit the referee. Jade Petrzelka and Breana Fitzgerald scored points down the stretch and the game ended in the Wildcats’ favor on an ace.
In set four, Showalter deadlocked the score at 24-24 with a kill and then unleashed two more lasers to give the Wildcats the set.
“It was exciting, it’s an intense game, they’re a great team,” Showalter said. “Our mindset was just push one point and ‘this ball,’ and just kind of staying focused in the moment and not getting so caught up on what’s on the line. It was a fun game to play, I’m proud of my teammates and proud of how we played.”
Showalter learned about being tough and pushing through the difficult moments and staging comebacks during matches.
“It would have been really easy for us in this game to pack up and go home, but I’m really proud of how we came out and pushed and put everything we had into that game,” she said.
Setter Dana Dolan said she enjoyed working hard with her teammates during the match. They went after every ball, and at one point, Dolan nearly collided with the scorer’s table while registering a dig and keeping the ball alive.
“I wish I could have gone to state, but if I were to lose a game, I’m glad I lost like that, ‘cause we put our heart out,” she said.
Life lessons abounded on and off the court for the Wildcats this season.
“I actually learned humbleness on this team. Don’t get all cocky, don’t get all, ‘Oh, I’m better than you,’ stay humble and be patient,” Dolan said.
Head coach Bonnie Foote said the loss hurts, but she’s proud of the Wildcats’ maximum effort and how close they’ve become this season. She’ll miss the seniors — Dolan, Emily Dann, Fitzgerald, Megan Underbrink and Tori Bearbow — who provided solid leadership and left a lasting impression on her heart, she said.
“I had an amazing season with these kids and they had a pretty lofty goal (state) and it was in reach, for sure,” Foote said. “But Issaquah’s also a great team, it just really comes down to who makes the least amount of errors.”
Foote added that the Wildcats made adjustments and came storming back to take the match to five sets.
This season was all about team camaraderie and chemistry between the players and coaches.
“They taught me life lessons, too. They taught me how to be patient. You have to ride the wave with them and stay relentlessly positive, and I know we did that this year,” Foote said.