Talk about drama.
When I saw that the fifth-ranked Auburn Riverside volleyball team beat Kentwood 3-2 last night in a key South Puget Sound Legaue 4A North Division match, I had to hear more about it.
So I e-mailed both coaches and the first response I received was from AR’s Chris Leverenz.
“Well, did you hear the drama???????” she asked.
What, the come-from behind victory wasn’t dramatic enough? I needed details, so we got on the phone.
Turns out Leverenz was ejected from the match after her “red card” gave Kentwood game point in set three and a 2-1 lead. It was her first ejection since starting the Riverside program in 1995 and it happened so quickly, she couldn’t quite believe it — and neither could Kentwood coach Bil Caillier, who said he thought the official overreacted at the time.
Leverenz then lost her cool a bit and admits she isn’t proud of it.
“I’m disappointed with myself,” she said.
Caillier, one of the good guys in volleyball, defended her.
“I don’t think Chris has to feel bad about how everything transpired,” he said.
Earlier in the match, Caillier received an automatic yellow (caution) card for tossing his clipboard on the floor — something he said he did in frustration with his players, not the officials.
The ejection wound up working in the Ravens’ favor — they dominated the final two games, 25-15, 15-7.
“It really gave the power back to my kids at that point,” Leverenz said. “They played their hearts out, and it was for me.”
Caillier was powerless as his team crumbled.
“Chris’ girls got pretty fired up and my girls didn’t respond real well to that situation,” he said. “They’ve got to learn how to deal with it. That’s volleyball.”
Leverenz waited in the gym lobby for the match to end and when it did, her players sprinted out the doors to celebrate with her — neglecting to give Kentwood the routine post-match cheer. She said she told them to get back in the gym to do so, but the Kentwood players and coaches apparently had left the floor.
Here are a couple more pieces to the drama — yesterday was Caillier’s 39th birthday, and the loss snapped Kentwood’s 56-match win streak in the division. The last time the Conquerors lost a division match was in 2004, to Auburn Riverside, which now has the inside track to the division championship.
The two teams could meet again in the West Central 4A District tournament next month, and I plan to be there for that one. It seems as though both are talented enough to qualify for state.
Kentwood will be back in action tomorrow in the Capital City Invitational at Olympia High School. The host Bears are ranked No. 2 in the state behind Mead of Spokane.
Another tournament of interest tomorrow is the Bearcat Invitational in Monroe. Kentwood traditionally played (and won) there, but has opted for the Olympia tourney this year. Monroe is currently ranked No, 10 in 4A. The field includes Eastside Catholic, which is No. 3 in 3A and pushed No. 2 Bishop Blanchet to five games earlier this week.
We’ll talk more about those tournaments here Monday, when the rankings are updated. Only one more week of regular-season play remains for most teams.
Then comes the really dramatic stuff.