Pull out your state volleyball brackets, everyone, and let’s talk about who will be listed on the “State Champions” lines by the end of the weekend.
In Class 4A, the obvious question is: Can anyone beat Mead of Spokane? The Kentwood Conquerors are among those who believe they can. They almost pulled it off last year in the state quarterfinals, but lost in five games — their lone loss of the season.
Mead went on to capture an unprecedented fourth consecutive championship. No other school in any classification has won more than three in a row. The Panthers march into the tournament win one loss, which came in a prestigious tournament in California fairly early in the season. Kentwood is unbeaten. The two are ranked 1-2 in the state by the Washington State Coaches’ Association, and Nos. 17-18 in the nation by PrepVolleyball.com.
I like this year’s bracket, and so does Kentwood coach Bil Caillier. If you haven’t seen it, take a look here 4A Volleyball. Mead and Kentwood are on opposite sides of the bracket, unlike last year, when they had that second-round matchup.
Of course, there’s no guarantee Mead and Kentwood will be meeting for the title Saturday night at the Toyota Center in Kennewick. It appears to be a quality tournament, top to bottom. Eighth-ranked Woodinville is certainly no gimmee for Kentwood in Friday’s opening round. And the upper half also includes No. 4 Skyview of Vancouver, No. 9 Kamiak and No. 10 Shadle Park, not to mention always-tough Lewis and Clark of Spokane, last year’s runner-up. Kentlake, one of only three teams to take a game off Kentwood this seaosn, is in the upper half, too, and takes on Skyview for starters.
Kamiak gets tested right out of the gate against Shadle Park and if the Knights survive, then L-C likely awaits.
The bottom half has its share of contenders too. In addition to Mead, there’s No. 6 Monroe and No. 7 Rogers of Puyallup, plus red-hot Bothell. Inglemoor’s reward for surviving the KingCo tournament and playoff with Heritage of Vancouver for the final spot in the tournament? Mead!
Some noteable teams not in the 4A tournament include No. 3 Richland and No. 5 Eisenhower of Yakima. Neither survived that ultra-tough Eastern Regional.
Incidently, we might see some new state rankings from the volleyball coaches reflecting the results of last weekend’s tournaments.
The Class 3A bracket is also intriguing, and you can check it out here — Class 3A . Bishop Blanchet, the defending champion, opens against Sumner with a possible quarterfinal date with No. 6 Camas looming. Shorecrest and Mount Si also are in the top half of the bracket.
The bottom half looks a bit tougher with No. 2 Kamiakin of Kennewick and No. 3 Auburn Riverside as well as No. 4 Mercer Island and No. 5 Kennedy, which reached the title game last year. Okay, maybe a lot tougher, although Camas did beat Kennedy last Saturday.
Auburn Riverside plays Holy Names in the first round, while Mercer Island takes on Enumclaw, and those winners meet in the quarterfinals. Auburn Mountainview is playing, but likely will have its hands full with Kamiakin in the opener. Could it be Kamiakin against Auburn Riverside in the semifinals?
We know who the favorites are in 4A and 3A. Do you have an upset special for us? And what about that opening question: Can anyone beat Mead?
We don’t wan to forget the schools in the smaller classifications, either, like Archbishop Murphy in 2A, King’s in 1A and Rainier Christian in 2B, to mention a few of the top local teams. Some definite trophy possibilities there.
There will be some outstanding volleyball played in Kennewick and Yakima this weekend. Are you going to be there?
— Sandy Ringer