If there was one characteristic all three SCAC West teams shared at this year’s Class 1A state volleyball tournament it was a no-quit attitude.
Whether it was overcoming a first-round loss or shaking off a resounding semifinal defeat, Granger, Naches Valley and Zillah all displayed a determination to put those setbacks behind them and keep driving forward.
That mind-set paid off in a remarkable two days in the SunDome as all three went home with hardware — Granger claiming a school-best third place trophy, Naches Valley a seventh and Zillah an eighth.
“We wanted a trophy so much. We decided to never settle and to go down swinging,” Granger standout Mayu Molina said of her team but a sentiment shared by the Spartans’ league rivals.
“It’s amazing. It’s the best feeling,” echoed Rangers standout Makala Swart.
That never-say-die mentality was best displayed by the young and undersized Spartans, who shook off Saturday’s 25-11, 25-10, 25-19 loss to two-time defending champion Lynden Christian by charging past seventh-ranked Freeman 25-16, 14-25, 26-24, 25-15 to claim third place.
Granger’s grit was never on better display than in the third game as they ripped off the final six points to erase a 24-20 deficit.
“It mattered. It really mattered to them,” Granger coach Lacey Martin said of finishing third. “They didn’t settle for just getting a trophy. I’m so happy for them.”
“We just said don’t let up, keep pushing,” Molina said. “We were fighting for every point.”
Naches Valley and Zillah shared that mentality by coming out and securing their trophies with victories Saturday morning — the Rangers with a 25-11, 25-17, 29-31, 25-20 win over Montesano and the Leopards with a 26-24, 26-24, 25-23, 25-11 win over Cascade Christian.
The Rangers then beat Zillah 26-24, 25-19, 25-15 in placing match.
“After the first couple of plays (against Montesano), I went, ‘Whew, this is the team I know,” Rangers coach Sherri Partlow said. “I could see the confidence in them today.”
None more so than Swart, who dominated with 77 kills for the day, including 44 against Zillah.
“We had the determination to keep playing. We wanted it,” Swart said.
“We weren’t going to lose today and she made sure of it,” Partlow said of Swart, adding that the entire team followed right along with the senior leader. “This is why I love my job. I work with the best girls in the world.”
Despite coming up short against Naches Valley, Zillah coach Wendy Ellis had similar feelings about her team, particularly the five seniors who helped the Leopards break a three-year state absence and 10-year trophy drought.
“You work all season to play that last match and they can hold their heads up because they finished strong,” she said. “They’re pretty proud in there (the locker room).”
Granger highlights (Freeman match): Christina Ruiz 17 digs; Kaitlyn Roettger 20 digs; Mayu Molina 18 kills, 27 digs; Nayu Roettger 35 assists, 11 digs; Sophie Blodgett 7 kills, 11 digs; Emma Stewart 8 kills; Lily Stewart 16 kills.
Naches Valley highlights: Montesano match, Macey Martin 14 digs; Makala Swart 33 kills, 23 digs; Abbie Hall 4 kills; Joelle Forbes 55 assists, 8 digs; Sydney Randles 14 kills; Danielle Shaul 16 digs. Zillah match, Martin 10 digs; 44 kills, 28 digs; Hall 4 kills; Forbes 40 assists, 9 digs; Randles 13 kills, 7 digs; Shaul 15 digs.
Zillah highlights: Cascade Christian match, Jenny Nobbs 41 assitss, 7 kills, 14-14 serving, 14 digs; Raveign Guthrie 15 kills, 5 blocks, 19-19 serving, 15 digs; Sam Bowman 4 kills, 5 blocks, 15-16 serving, 28 digs; Maci Favilla 6 kills; McKenna Burge 5 kills, 11-11 serving, 22 digs; Eva Derrey 17-17 serving, 3 aces, 8 digs. Naches Valley match, Nobbs 9 digs, 4 kills, 24 assists; Guthrie 12 kills, 10-10 serving; Favilla 17 digs; Derrey 6 digs, 8-8 serving; Bowman 11 kills; Burge 13 digs.