Unless her memory is playing tricks, Brooke Meyer said you have to go back to the previous century to find the last time Shadle Park defeated Mead in a Greater Spokane League volleyball match.
Well, welcome to the 21st century, Highlanders.
Senior middle blocker Rachel Stuart had a match-high 11 kills Friday night to guide Shadle to a 25-19, 25-20, 25-21 win over visiting Mead on Linda Sheridan Court.
“I know we beat them in 1999, because that was the year we finished third in state,” coach Meyer said after a victory that thrust her Highlanders into the race for the league title.
Shadle, Mead and Central Valley are all 3-1 and tied for second place, chasing University (4-0). U-Hi has defeated CV and Shadle and plays at Mead on Tuesday night.
While Mead has won nine of the last 13 GSL titles, the Highlanders are looking for their first league championship since 1991, according to the GSL’s website.
The Highlanders’ hopes were boosted by a 3-2 nonleague win over Mead earlier this season.
The formula is vintage Shadle, said Stuart, who missed the nonleague win over Mead because of an illness.
“We just put 100 percent of our effort into every single play and we just try to run smart plays,” Stuart said. “Push it deep on the court and find the team’s weakness.”
“Our motto this year is, ‘This is it,’ ”added Shadle senior Maggie Jarvis, who had a match-high three blocks. “We want to go as far as we possibly can go. We’re willing to do whatever it takes to get there.”
Mead led the first game 18-17 after back-to-back kills by senior Brianna Evans, but the Highlanders outscored the Panthers 8-1 down the stretch. The game was tied eight times and Mead made four crucial service errors.
The second game featured 10 ties, the last at 17-all. Shadle outscored the Panthers 8-3 the rest of the way as Mead coach Elaina Renius took two timeouts to attempt to stem the tide.
The Highlanders never trailed in the final game. One of Jarvis’ blocks capped a key 4-0 run for a 20-14 advantage.
“We were just playing really smart tonight and putting the ball where it needed to go,” Jarvis said. “We were playing really good defense and picking everything up.”
“We kept saying defense will win this game and smart, aggressive offense,” Meyer said. “We’re not going to outpower anyone, but we are going to play really smart.”
Evans and junior Kristina Volz had seven kills and two blocks apiece for the Panthers.
Also in the GSL, Gonzaga Prep (2-2) swept visiting North Central 25-17, 25-19, 25-20. Sophie West had seven kills and two blocks, while Sara Mackin added 13 assists for the Bullpups. Megan Dean had four kills and two blocks for the Indians (0-4).