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Mt. Spokane reaches State 3A semifinals; Mead, CV in 4A consolation bracket

A less-than desirable 8 a.m. start time did nothing to slow Mt. Spokane’s dominant net attack. 

Despite the early wake-up call, the Wildcats looked razor sharp Friday at the State 3A volleyball tournament at Saint Martin’s University in Lacey, impressively winning their opening two rounds to advance to today’s semifinals.

“We want this,” junior outside hitter Kennadie Clute said. “When we play aggressive we are a dominant team. We have a powerful front line and every person can swing.”

And aggressive they were as the Wildcats’ balanced offensive attack was on full display in both matches.

First, the Wildcats (23-6) disposed of Narrows League champion Capital 3-0 (25-17, 25-22, 25-21) before knocking off Mount Si 3-1 (25-21, 25-23, 21-25, 25-15).

“We were definitely prepared for this,” senior Marissa Verduci said about Mt. Spokane’s 8 a.m. first-round start time against the Cougars. “The entire team has been getting up at 6 a.m. all week just so we would be ready to play today. We had a 7 a.m. practice yesterday, got up at 5:45 today. We played exceptional and everyone was on.”

Clute and Verduci paced the Wildcats with 11 and 10 kills, respectively, against Capital, while Paiton Larson had 31 assists.

In the quarterfinals, Mt. Spokane won the first two sets with a devastating Verduci kill putting an exclamation point on the second-set victory before dropping the third set to Mount Si.

“I think we got a little tired in that third set,” Mt. Spokane coach Dave Whitehead said, “but that’s going to happen. I was very pleased with how we responded in the fourth set. They are so focused right now. We haven’t always been focused this year, but when we are, we are a very tough team to beat.”

Verduci registered 19 kills and 10 digs against Mount Si (26-7) with Larson contributing 35 assists and 11 digs.

The Wildcats will face Eastside Catholic, the 2010 state runner-up, at 1:30 p.m. today in a semifinal match-up.

“We lost in the semifinals last year,” said Clute, who posted 18 kills and 11 digs in the quarterfinals. “We remember how it felt to lose there. We just need to step it up and be ready to play.”

4A: Mead, which was looking to win its seventh title in the last nine seasons, fell to Olympia in a thrilling 3-2 (25-23, 23-25, 10-25, 25-11, 15-6) quarterfinal match.

“It was just a case of when we were up, we played great and when they were up, they played great,” Mead coach Judy Kight said. “Unfortunately for us, it ended with them on the upside.”

The Panthers (25-4) needed five sets to put away a game Tahoma squad in the opening round, winning 25-16, 22-25, 21-25, 25-13, 15-9.

Paige Montgomery led Mead with 15 kills and Jonni Dorr added 24 assists and 11 digs against Tahoma.

Mead plays Puyallup in the consolation round at 11:45 a.m. today.

Central Valley, making its first state tournament appearance, shook off a first-round loss by defeating Rogers (Puyallup) in the consolation bracket, 3-1, to keep its hopes of a trophy alive.

The Bears dropped their opening match against Puyallup, 3-1 (20-25, 25-23, 14-25, 17- 25), getting 15 kills from Mikayla Ness and 14 from Delaney Fisher, while Sam Brock notched 31 assists.

“We had to overcome a lot of things. I think nerves were an issue,” Central Valley coach Chris Kosty said about his team’s first state tournament match. “It’s always a huge honor just to make it to state, but once you are here you have to believe you can play with the caliber of teams that are here.”

Central Valley (21-9) plays Newport of Bellevue (20-3) at 9:45 a.m.

2A: Pullman’s quest for a third straight championship ended in the second round at Evergreen State College in Olympia. After a three-set win over Black Hills in the opening round, the Greyhounds fell 25-20, 25-17, 25-18 to Burlington-Edison.

Pullman beat Burlington-Edison at state each of the past two years.

The Greyhounds will play North Kitsap in a loser-out match today. If they win, they’ll play in the sixth/eighth-place consolation final.