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Kellie Egan and the Mead Panthers are aiming for their 15th straight trip to state. (Jesse Tinsley)

Swan song

Egan hopes to end career at state

Kellie Egan knows it’s time to walk away from volleyball.

Just give her another two weeks.

“As much as volleyball has given me, and been part of my life, this is the end for me,” Egan said as her Mead Panthers prepared for Saturday’s 4A regional tournament on their home court.

Mead (20-6) is one win away from qualifying for its 15th consecutive state tournament. Egan said the Nov. 15-16 tournament in Lacey would be the perfect way to cap her time with the sport she loves.

Egan traces her volleyball roots to the summer before third grade, when she attended Mead’s volleyball camp. She joined her first real teams, school and club, in fifth grade.

The 5-foot-10 senior has played all four years at Mead, including the last two on varsity.

The Panthers’ senior-laden lineup last season left little court time for juniors such as Egan, but practice time was invaluable for preparing for this year.

“Kellie is a very powerful component of this team,” first-year Panthers coach Elaina Renius said. “As a returner, Kellie knows what it’s going to take to get us to where we want to be next weekend. Her energy on the court is contagious, and it has been an absolute honor to coach her this season.”

The Panthers caught fire in the last three weeks, shaking off a Greater Spokane League loss to Shadle Park to defeat University and forge a three-way tie for the league title with Shadle and U-Hi. Mead also rebounded from a nonleague loss to Central Valley to defeat the regional-bound Bears in league and district play.

“I think what happened in the middle of the season definitely fueled us, because we don’t like to lose,” Egan said. “I don’t think I would change anything about our season, because it’s made us stronger and made us who we are now.”

Mead will play Chiawana of Pasco at 2 p.m. for a state berth. CV (20-8) will meet Richland at 4 in a loser-out match. The first-game loser and second-game winner play at 6 for the second state berth.

“I think if we play with fire and focus, as we did Saturday, we’ll be fine,” Egan said.

Egan, who has lived in the Mead area her entire life, is the oldest of Mike and Leslie Egan’s four children. Sister Ashlie is a freshman at Mead. Brother Preston, 10, and sister Haylie, 8, round out the group.

Egan hopes to attend Brigham Young University, where her parents met.

“I looked at maybe playing at BYU-Hawaii, but I think it’s time I focused on school,” Egan said.

Her academic focus at Mead has led to a cumulative grade-point average of 3.94. Unlike many seniors, Egan’s workload includes many Advanced Placement classes.

“I’ll probably get a business degree or go into accounting,” Egan said. “I have so many different options and I’m giving it a lot of thought.”