A strange thing happened on the way to the Crossover Classic volleyball tournament championship match.
No Spokane-area team advanced to the final for the first time since the tourney’s early years.
One by one area teams were knocked off, beginning with traditional power Mead and followed by Mt. Spokane, which fell to West Valley of Yakima in the semifinals.
West Valley topped Bellarmine Prep of Tacoma 25-21, 25-22 in the final.
Mt. Spokane ended up with the highest placing among area teams, taking fourth.
The Wildcats did so with a shell of their team. They were missing three starters. Middle blocker Brooke Reilly was in Seattle for a basketball tournament, outside hitter Ixchelle Olsen sat out the final two matches with a tender shoulder and setter Annie Arnzen was absent, having been suspended indefinitely for an athletic code violation. Mt. Spokane coach David Whitehead confirmed Arnzen was absent from the team but wouldn’t confirm the suspension, referring that question to school officials.
Whitehead had to do some serious alterations to the lineup. He started sophomore Paiton Larson at setter and brought up a freshman setter to tinker with a 6-2 attack.
“I was absolutely amazed at how we did,” Whitehead said.
Whitehead switched 5-foot-5 libero Brooke Ranieri to outside hitter.
He couldn’t wipe his ear-to-ear grin off his face afterward, pointing out how proud he was of his team’s effort Saturday.
Mt. Spokane took the first game from West Valley 25-19, but the Rams bounced back to win 25-19, 15-11. Junior outside hitter Kennadie Clute led the Wildcats with 12 kills.
“When she wants to play, she is a horse,” Whitehead said of Clute. “That’s what she has to learn to do, to always have it turned on. When she does she’s just amazing.”
Then in the one-set match for third/fourth, Flathead (Mont.), making its debut at the Crossover Classic, topped Mt. Spokane 25-22.
The Wildcats’ offense struggled against Flathead. Clute had just one kill while Ranieri had a team-leading three.
Where Mt. Spokane goes from here with its lineup remains to be seen.
“The coaches will get together and talk about it,” Whitehead said. “I have great assistant coaches and they’re in my ear all the time.
“We’ve got a league game Tuesday (against Central Valley) and it’s a big one for us. I can’t tell you what we’ll do yet.”
Post Falls and Mead tied for seventh. In the quarterfinals, Post Falls fell to Flathead 17-25, 25-22, 15-10 and WV-Yakima topped Mead 25-14, 25-22. In their final single-set matches, Mead topped defending State 4A champ Jackson 25-23 and Post Falls held off Colville 25-21.