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State volleyball: Mt. Spokane into 3A semifinals; University ousted from 4A tournament

YAKIMA – Mt. Spokane powered its way into the State 3A volleyball semifinals for the third consecutive year Friday with a 3-0 win over Eastside Catholic in the Yakima Valley SunDome.

The Wildcats will play Capital in the semifinals at 1 p.m. Saturday. Lakeside (Seattle) and Ferndale will meet in the other semifinal. A win for Mt. Spokane would put the Wildcats back in the state finals for the first time since 2009.

“That’s the best we’ve played for a while. I think we’re peaking at the right time,” Wildcats coach Dave Whitehead said after the 25-16, 25-18, 25-17 semifinal win. “My coaching staff did a great job of coming up with a scouting report for this match. We were very specific on what we needed to focus on and we did a great job taking it on the court. It’s one thing to say it. We did it.”

Mt. Spokane came into the opening round with a winning streak dating to early September. But gritty Stadium paid no heed to that, testing the Wildcats every step of the way, 25-20, 25-23, 25-16, before Mt. Spokane advanced to the quarterfinals.

“A friend of mine on the other side of the state told me we’d be playing a really scrappy team that’s not going to give up on anything. That’s what Stadium did,” Whitehead said. “That’s good that we get that. There’s not a bad team here and so we’re gonna be pushed every time we step on the court and we have to be prepared to push back.”

University – back at the State 4A after a two-year absence – was knocked out in two consecutive matches for the third time in the team’s last four trips to state.

In the opener, the Titans ran into an Olympia squad that has been playing well the last few weeks. The Bears won the first set 25-21 then outlasted the Titans 32-30 in a well-played, taut second set. The Titans seemed to run out of gas after missing on so many chances to get an equalizer, and fell easily in the third set, 25-14.

“You have to think we’re doing something right if we’re going to 32-30 against that team,” U-Hi coach Tony Collins said. “It’s not like it was a blowout. We left everything on the court in that one.”

Facing Kamiak – the team they beat for their last state win in 2014 – in the consolation round, the Titans fell 23-25, 29-27, 20-25, 25-22.