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Mead defeats U-Hi, creates 4-way tie for first

It’s said that history is written by the winners, so Mead coach Elaina Renius thought this might be a good week for a history lesson.

Renius’ Panthers looked listless Friday night when there were swept by Shadle Park. It was the Highlanders’ first Greater Spokane League volleyball win over Mead since 1999.

True, Renius told her Panthers as this week began, but the story didn’t end there. Mead regrouped to win the state title that ’99 season.

Using the themes of focus and redemption, Mead vaulted itself back into the GSL title race Tuesday night with a 25-23, 25-18, 25-27, 25-6 win over first-place University. The outcome left Mead, U-Hi, Shadle and Central Valley tied for first place at 4-1 with four league matches left.

“When we heard that it was the first time that Shadle had beaten Mead in over a decade, we were like, ‘Wow, we don’t want to be that team,’ ” said Mead senior setter Hannah Absalonson, who had a match-high 21 assists and four aces. “We want to prove to everyone out there that this isn’t just a team of inexperienced babies who have been in the shadows so long.”

“(Monday) we had an intentional focus on focusing, on being present in the moment,” Renius said. “If you are serving, you are in the moment. If you’re passing, you’re in the moment. I think being at home and knowing that we needed redemption from Friday was good.”

Mead has won nine of the last 13 GSL titles. Shadle has won 11 league title, but none since 1993. U-Hi’s lone title came in 2004 and CV has never won the crown.

The title outcome should be decided Thursday, when Mead hosts CV, and Oct. 24, when CV is at Shadle.

“I think we’re still in a great position and to win GSL would be nice, but our goals are a lot higher than that in the long run,” U-Hi coach Mike Summers said. “It’s obviously one of the things that we’d like to happen, but it’s just the GSL title. It’d be nice to win it, but if it doesn’t happen, we’d prefer a trip to state instead.”

Mead and U-Hi counterpunched in the first game, which had 11 ties. Mead’s Brianna Evans snapped a 23-all tie with a kill near the line to the right corner.

The Panthers streaked to a 13-7 lead in the second game and withstood a rally fueled by two kills by U-Hi junior Brooklyn Tacke. Panthers senior Emily Herbster had kills for points 23 and 25.

Titans sophomore Daryn Griffith had a kill and a block late in the third game for a 24-20 lead. Mead rallied and served for the match after Absalonson’s back-to-back aces, but Tacke’s block tied the game for the 13th time, at 25-all, and two bad hits by the Panthers forced a fourth game.

Blocks by junior Kristina Volz and senior Rylie Carty helped Mead to an 11-1 fourth-game run and a 13-3 lead. The Panthers eased home with a 10-0 run.

“Focus,” Mead senior Maddy Soehren said. “We had a big lack of focus during the Shadle game. We turned that around and really came in with a lot of focus and determination in this game, and that got us to where we are.”

“We had our plan in place, but we didn’t perform like we normally do,” Summers said.

• In other GSL matches, Amanda Konynenbelt had 11 assists and Chloe Brooks added 11 digs and five aces to guide Shadle to a sweep at Rogers. SP’s Emily Rector also had 11 digs. Mikayla Risinger had 18 assists and Kabao Xiong added 13 digs for the Pirates (1-4). … Meghan Rockwood had 11 kills and Kazyln Roullier added 34 assists as Central Valley posted a sweep at Ferris. Siniva Areta had five digs and Lauren Reid added six kills for the Saxons (2-3). … Macy Collins had five of Gonzaga Prep’s 14 aces during a sweep of visiting Lewis and Clark. Collins also had seven kills and 10 digs, while Sara Mackin contributed 19 assists for the Bullpups (3-2). Mary Stoa had 11 assists for the Tigers (1-4). … Libby Pittenger had 14 kills and Arianna Newcomb added 14 digs and two aces as visiting Mt. Spokane (2-3) swept North Central. Adriana Sosa had 11 digs for the Indians (0-5).