YAKIMA – Lakeside’s strong start wasn’t enough to stave off powerhouse Castle Rock Saturday in the SunDome and the Eagles dropped the championship match of the State 1A volleyball tournament 25-27, 25-13, 25-23, 25-18.
The trophy is Lakeside’s fourth since dropping down to Class 1A. The Eagles were second in 2006, seventh in 2007 and eighth in 2009.
The Eagles didn’t have the consistency to match the Rockets’ metronome-like play and they didn’t have anyone who could match the on-court brilliance of Castle Rock outside hitter Macee Utecht.
The 5-foot-5 Utecht made plays from everywhere. That, coupled with 11 unforced errors in the fourth game, led the Lakeside’s downfall.
“This is a big stage and we didn’t have the experience and they did,” Lakeside coach Kara Moffatt said. “Our girls were battling the whole time, but they kept making plays.”
The experience – and a huge helping of focus – was a big factor. Castle Rock came in to the tournament with two fourths and two seconds since 2008. The team’s T-shirt had the words “Unfinished Business” in big letters across the back.
The Eagles showed plenty of grit in hanging close. The Eagles won a taut first game that featured seven lead changes – neither team led by more than two points – and 11 ties.
Castle Rock raced to leads of 6-0 and 13-5 in the second game. The Rockets kept the pressure on Lakeside at the net the entire time.
The Eagles hung with the more-experienced Rockets in a tight third game, tying the game at 23 on three consecutive service points by setter Sydney Johnson.
Lakeside’s league neighbor, Freeman, advanced by defeating Woodland 25-13, 25-27, 25-23, 25-22 before losing to Annie Wright of Tacoma 19-25, 25-17, 25-23, 25-19 in the seventh-place game.
The eighth-place trophy is the Scotties’ second in a row and seventh in as many trips to state dating to 2002.