YAKIMA – Colfax’s four seniors – Abbie Miller, Piper Cai, Greta Geier and Carmen Gfeller – came to the Class 2B state volleyball tournament with three goals in mind.
The first, unsaid but looming clearly in the background, was to send retiring Hall of Fame coach Sue Doering out the best way possible – which meant achieving the second goal – winning Doering’s 14th state title. But to get there, an atypical third goal for Colfax anyway, needed to be met first.
The Bulldogs were also seeking redemption after an uncharacteristic fifth-place trophy in 2016. That was their first trip to state since 2002 – when the tournament was played under the old pool play format – in which the Bulldogs hadn’t at least reached the semifinals.
Colfax opened that collective quest with a straight set (25-8, 25-11, 25-15) pummeling of Toutle Lake in the SunDome on Thursday, and followed that with a relatively easy three-set win over Napavine (25-20, 25-14, 25-14) to get to a semifinal matchup at 11:45 Friday against Life Christian.
Senior Libero Abbie Miller said that the pressure to send their veteran, beloved coach out on a high note fades as soon as they step on the floor. “In some ways it’s there, but she hasn’t really said anything about it. We (the seniors) want to do good not only for her, but for us and the team.”
The easy wins didn’t surprise Miller. “We came in with the mindset that everything we hit was going to be down and everything they hit we were going to dig.”
Northwest Christian outlasted a gritty Tri Cities Prep squad in four sets (25-18, 16-25, 25-20, 25-8) to move into the quarterfinals, where they hammered defending champion Kalama (25-20, 25-18, 25-23). The Crusaders will face defending runner-up Mossyrock at 11:45 a.m.
Liberty’s Lancers – making their first appearance since 1975 – opened play with a sweep (25-19, 25-23, 25-20) over ninth-ranked Kittitas. The Lancers were knocked into the consolation bracket by Life Christian (25-19, 25-18, 26-24) though and will face Napavine in a consolation semifinal at 9:45.
The Southeast 1B League looked dominant on the first day of the state tournament at the SunDome. Three of the four teams in the semifinals are from the league, led by two-time defending state champion Oakesdale.
Oakesdale opened defense of its title in the upper half of the bracket, blitzing Mount Rainier Lutheran (25-6, 25-10, 25-15). The Nighthawks continued their march toward a sixth title since 2011 by sweeping Puget Sound Adventist (25-20, 25-11, 25-17) to advance to the semifinals.
The outcome was satisfactory to Oakesdale coach Brandi Brown, but the way it happened – missing 13 serves – wasn’t.
“We were hitting pretty well but we missed those serves,” Brown said. “That’s not a lucky 13. We need to pick up the pace and do the job.”
Oakesdale next faces Odessa, back at state for the first time since 2008, in a semifinal at 9:45.
Odessa won its opening round match with Three Rivers Christian (14-25, 25-16, 25-18, 25-19). The Tigers then powered into the semifinals with a straight-set win (25-19, 29-27, 25-15) over Quilcene in the quarterfinals.
Pomeroy, the squad that Oakesdale defeated in the finals the last two years and the No.1 ranked team going into the tournament, throttled Rainier Christian (25-10, 25-11, 25-17) in its first match before outlasting Almira-Coulee/Hartline in a thrilling five-set quarterfinal match (25-23, 28-26, 25-27, 16-25, 19-17).
The Pirates are conveniently in the bottom quarter-bracket for those seeking a title match rematch between the two squads. A win over Colton in the semifinals at 11:45 a.m. would ensure that.
Colton, back for the first time since back-to-back runner up finishes in 2012-13, toppled Entiat (25-12, 25-12, 25-20) in its opener. The Wildcats advanced to the semifinals with a sweep (25-20, 25-14, 25-14) of Sunnyside Christian.
Once-beaten ACH knocked off Firm Foundation with little trouble (25-20, 25-14, 25-11) in the first round before facing Pomeroy in the quarterfinals. The Warriors will play Sunnyside Christian in an 8 a.m. consolation semifinal this morning. A win there would provide a shot at a fifth-place trophy later in the day.
Selkirk opened its first ever trip to state with a loss. The Rangers dropped their opening round match to Puget Sound Adventist (25-20, 10-25, 20-25, 26-24, 12-15) but bounced back to win their first consolation match, ousting Mount Rainier Lutheran, (25-17, 25-12, 25-13). They advance to an 8 a.m. contest against Three Rivers Christian. A win in the early match would guarantee the Rangers a trophy.