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Mead sweeps Mt. Spokane in volleyball rivalry

They’re calling it The New Age at Mead, but it comes with many of the old successes.

“We’re ready to grow and we are going to be so much better,” Mead senior Brianna Evans said Thursday after her seven kills led the Panthers to a 25-11, 25-16, 25-22 Greater Spokane League volleyball win at Mt. Spokane in a well-attended rivalry match between sister schools.

The Panthers improved to 2-0 in the league in their quest for a third consecutive GSL title. Mead has won nine of the last 13 league titles, but those championships came with Judy Kight as coach.

First-year Panthers coach Elaina Renius knows the goal will be tougher as Mead (7-3) already has nonleague losses to Idaho 5A power Lewiston, Shadle Park and Central Valley.

“Coming off the loss (to CV) on Tuesday, and knowing that this is probably the most thought-about game, for sure, in the season, I had confidence that we were going to bring a different energy tonight,” Renius said.

Mead used its advantage at the net to lead for much of the night, but the Wildcats (0-2 GSL) didn’t make it easy in the final two games.

Junior Zuri Meehan had two of her match-high five aces in the first game as the Panthers led from start to finish.

“I think our serving was spot-on,” Renius said. “We kept them on their heels and that was really to our advantage. They couldn’t ever really get into their offense because of how strong our serving was.”

Mt. Spokane coach Dave Whitehead took two first-game timeouts to attempt to stem the tide, but Evans and junior Kristina Volz teamed on a block for a 19-9 lead soon after the second timeout.

“Our offense is really strong,” said Volz, who teamed with seniors Rylie Carty and Kellie Egan for 10 blocks. … “We’re really good at finishing. We know we can count on our hitters.”

Sophomore Adrienne Dotson, who finished with a match-high eight kills, and junior Arianna Newcomb had kills as Mt. Spokane built a 9-5 lead in the second game. Mead turned the game around with six consecutive points, punctuated by Carty’s kill, for a 15-11 lead. Whitehead again took two timeouts to try to stop Mead’s momentum.

The Panthers stormed ahead 5-0 in the final game before their mistakes led to six consecutive Mt. Spokane points and a 15-all tie. The Wildcats led 18-16 when senior Maddy Soehren and Evans had kills to put Mead in front for good.

“I think this shows that rivalry games are when people play their best,” Evans said. “I think we can still get better, but I think that this shows how great we can be.”

“I took away from the match that we’re close to where we want to be, but we’re just a hair away,” Whitehead said. “This late in the season, we’re still moving people around, trying to find who’s doing what we need to get done.”

Also in the GSL, Meghan Rockwood totaled 25 assists and six digs as Central Valley (2-0) posted a sweep at North Central. CV’s Kazyln Roullier added nine kills. Josie Bemel had 11 digs for NC (0-2). … Amanda Konynenbelt had a match-high 11 kills, Emily Rector added 19 digs and Maggie Jarvis had four aces and three blocks as Shadle Park (1-1) recorded a 3-0 win at Gonzaga Prep. Sophie West led the Bullpups (1-1) with six kills and three blocks.