KENNEWICK – Until 10 days ago, Kara Weitz didn’t know if she’d get the chance to return to the court for the Pullman volleyball team.
The senior setter suffered a concussion at practice last month while shagging balls, and as her second in as many years, it was unsure she would get clearance to play.
Finally, she got two doctors to sign off, and she returned to practice two days before the regional tournament. “You could just feel it on the practice court,” said her father, Greyhounds coach Dave Weitz. “it just brought up the whole team.”
The Hounds went on a roll ever since that concluded Saturday night at the Toyota Center with their second straight 2A state championship, beating Selah 25-27, 25-21, 25-19, 25-18 in the final.
“This is what we’ve played for since sixth grade,” said Kara, who had 44 assists in the title match. “I was not going to miss this chance. I was not going to let a little bruise on my head keep me from playing the rest of my senior year.”
The Greyhounds struggled through the first set and a half until all-tournament libero April Oviatt served three consecutive aces to give them a 17-16 lead.
The set was tied at 21 when tournament MVP Shelby Cheslek scored a pair of kills to put Pullman over the top.
“We were tight,” coach Weitz said. “That set and a half was the worst we’d played since districts. I don’t know what clicked, but when we started staying home on defense, getting their balls up, our confidence went up, and we were able to get into our transition offense.”
Cheslek (16 kills, eight blocks) and fellow all-tourney selection Stephanie Logan (22 kills) did the rest, slowly wresting control of the net away from the smaller Vikings.
“We played our ‘A’ game the whole tournament,” Kara Weitz said. “We just played our hearts out.”
The Greyhounds got payback from league rival West Valley in the semifinals, avenging their loss in the district finals with a dominating performance, 25-14, 25-19, 23-25, 25-14.
The teams ended up splitting their four matches this season, with Pullman winning when it counted most.
“That was definitely a state-championship kind of matchup,” said Cheslek, who took over the fourth set with four kills and a block during an 8-0 run to help the Hounds open a 16-6 lead.
“We always go back and forth with West Valley, but the first three times we played, we didn’t have Kara or Kendra (Bone). We finally have our whole team together.”
The Eagles got a measure of revenge of their own in the third-place match, rolling past Grandview 25-19, 25-23, 25-22 to post their best-ever finish in five state appearances.
“We couldn’t change what happened against Pullman,” said senior Shaniqua Nilles, an all-tourney selection who had 14 kills and 17 digs in her final high school match. “I’m proud of what we’ve done this year. Third is pretty great. We’ll take that any day.”
Nilles missed the Eagles’ regional semifinal loss to Grandview after spraining her ankle in their first-round win. A week of therapy and wearing her high-top basketball shoes all weekend assured Nilles wouldn’t miss out on state.
“It was very frustrating having to watch my team lose to them,” Nilles said. “Today we came out and wanted revenge. That’s why we played so hard.”
State 3A: Kenzie Reid didn’t want to let the thought that this weekend meant the end of not only her career at Mount Spokane, but that of her father and coach, John, who was resigning at season’s end.
“It was too sad,” the Wildcats setter said. “But it’s also cool for him to go out with me. The Reids go out together.”
They go out as winners of the fourth-place trophy after beating Kennedy 26-28, 25-22, 25-22, 25-14, in the placing match.
“We just decided that we were still at state, and that’s a big deal,” said Kenzie, who was named to the all-tournament team. “We wanted to win two today and get the highest place we couid.”The Wildcats, who lost in Friday’s quarterfinals to eventual champion Seattle Prep, reached the trophy round by beating Kennewick for the second time in two weeks — this time in straight sets, 25-19, 25-22, 25-17.