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High School Sports Blog

The latest news and analysis on high-school sports around the Seattle area

October 31, 2012 at 8:38 AM

The Right Stuff: Some state volleyball qualifiers, a look at young Emerald Ridge and resurgent Seattle Prep and brackets, of course

Corrected version

We’re getting down to it.

The state volleyball tournaments are just a little over a week away, and we already have some qualifiers.

Congratulations to Jackson, Monroe, Newport and Skyline in 4A and Stanwood and Shorewood in 3A. All punched their tickets to state Tuesday night.

More on how they did it in a minute. But first let me tell you what you’re getting in this volume of The Right Stuff — besides a bunch of links to district brackets at the end.

Emerald Ridge is a team I’ve had on my radar all season, and this week the Jaguars jumped into the rankings after big wins over Curtis and Auburn Riverside. So I thought it would be a good time to tell you a little more about them.

And we’ll take a look at Seattle Prep’s resurgence in Class 3A as well. After a couple of late-season losses, the Panthers repeated as Metro League tournament champions last week. Now they go after another Sea-King District title.

Now, a few more details on those early state qualifiers.

Jackson, ranked No. 2, advanced to the championship match of the Northwest District tournament without dropping a set, dispatching both Mount Vernon and Snohomish by 3-0 counts. The Timberwolves won the state title two years ago and were a disappointing fourth last year.

I hope to check in with Jackson coach Ashley Allen for next week’s notebook.

I highlighted Monroe last week and the Bearcats continue to get the job done in impressive fashion. After opening the Northwest tourney with a 3-1 win over Lynnwood, they rolled past Kamiak, 3-0 to earn their first state berth since 2008.

Jackson and Monroe play for the district title Thursday, when the tourney resumes. Kamiak and Snohomish are still alive in the consolation bracket along with Lake Stevens and Edmonds-Woodway. One of those teams will finish third and have a shot Saturday at one final state berth against the No. 3 team out of KingCo.

Fifth-ranked Newport squares off with Skyline for the KingCo title Thursday. Each semifinal match went five sets as the Knights held off Eastlake and Skyline edged Bothell. Both placed at state last year as Skyline took sixth and Newport seventh.

Eastlake, Bothell, Woodinville and Issaquah will be battling for that KingCo No. 3 spot.

In the Northwest 3A District tournament, Shorewood (also highlighted here last week) wrapped up its first state berth since 1998 with victories over Marysville-Pilchuck and Glacier Peak. Stanwood, which qualified for the 4A state tourney in 2005, topped Ferndale and Oak Harbor. The title match is Thursday.

One more team will qualify for state out of that tournament. Glacier Peak, Meadowdale, Oak Harbor and Everett are still alive.

I’ll link to the updated brackets at the end of this notebook. And I’ll also have links to a variety of other district tournaments.

Remember, we’re still waiting for the Southwest 4A to complete their sub-district playoffs tonight (Wednesday) before we are able to complete bracket for the West Central/Southwest Bi-District tournament. Camas and Union are playing for the title (Skyview advanced as the No. 3 seed).

I plan to be at that 4A Bi-District tourney Friday and Saturday. It includes several ranked teams – No. 3 Bellarmine Prep, No. 4 Camas, No. 6 Emerald Ridge, No. 7 Curtis, No. 9 Olympia and No. 10 Auburn Riverside. It should be a great tournament and I don’t see a clear favorite.

Half of the 4A state field (eight of the 16 teams) comes out of the tourney. I see a couple of pretty good first-round matchups that already are determined – Olympia vs. Kentwood (which was ranked earlier this year) and Gig Harbor vs. Puyallup (these two teams were ranked at some point during the season as well).

Young talent (and an upset loss) spark Emerald Ridge

Things might have been different for the team last season if Emerald Ridge has a four-year high school.

There were some very talented ninth graders in the service area, but they were a year away from arriving. The Jags wound up in the middle of the pack in the South Puget Sound League South Division, tied with Rogers for the fifth and final spot into the playoffs.

But Rogers had won head-to-head, so there were no playoffs for Emerald Ridge – which won five straight trophies at state between 2001-2005 and hasn’t qualified since.

So, coming into this season, hopes were high at ER. Coming in, Puyallup and Curtis were considered the favorites, with more seasoned lineups, but the Jags were considered a contender. Puyallup coach Tony Batinovich was leery from the get-go and said sophomore Jenna Mullen has the potential to be one of the best to come out of the league in a long while.

And there have been some good ones in the SPSL.

Mullen, a 6-foot-1 outside hitter, led the SPSL South in kills, averaging four per set. She’ll be a candidate for MVP honors in the division.

“She’s been our workhorse,” said Bobby McGivern, who co-coaches the team with Jill Fox-Mullen.

Fox-Mullen is Jenna’s mother and was a star player in Oregon and went on the earn NAAI All-America honors her senior year at the University of Puget Sound in 1990. Jenna’s father is Pat Mullen, an outstanding basketball player out of Bethel who also played at UPS.

Interestingly, it was Bethel that put an end to ER’s hopes of going through the SPSL South unbeaten, knocking off the Jags on Oct. 10, 3-2.

McGivern said they actually benefitted from that loss.

“That was a wake-up call for us,” he said. “We needed to get that, to get back to fundamentals. Like I told them, everyone wants to go through the season undefeated. What coach wouldn’t want that? But that was a good loss for us, a chance to regroup because we are so young.

Mullen is one of five key sophomores on the team as she is joined by setter Isabella Zubrod, MH Audrey Saelens, OH Kateri Blodgett-Baker and RS Jessica Davis. Only two seniors start – libero Leia Roy and defensive specialist Serena Labounty.

The Jaguars bounced back from that Bethel loss with five straight victories. The closed out the regular season with a convincing, 3-0 victory over Curtis – then ranked No. 3 – to earn a share of the division title and earn the right to play No. 10 Auburn Riverside for the overall SPSL crown. They won that one 3-1.

McGivern said his players haven’t forgotten the disappointment of that match with Bethel, which failed to make the playoffs.

“They didn’t like the feeling after that loss,” he said. “It’s been in the back of their minds and every match after that they’ve been pretty grounded and played the way they’re supposed to.”

ER opens district play Friday against Skyview and it won’t be an easy road to a championship. Their half of the bracket includes Olympia, the defending state champion, and the Southwest top seed, which could be Camas.

But their focus is simply getting to state, according to McGivern.

“This week their goal is win two before you lose two,” he said.

That would assure the team of a trip to state, where a top-five finish is on the wish list, McGivern said.

Seattle Prep back in sync and in pursuit of another banner

Seattle Prep is another team that learned from a late-season loss – two of them, in fact.

The Panthers, who won the state title in 2010 and placed third last year, dropped an early match to Holy Names, then ranked No. 1 in the state. But they started to cruise in the ultra-tough Metro League Mountain Division after that and were up to No. 4 in the state rankings.

Then came a 3-1 loss to Bainbridge. Two days later, they fell 3-2 to Lakeside.

Coach Marcene Sullivan said the team was adjusting to some injuries, particularly the absence of MH Ari Mosca, who missed much of the middle of the season with a sore back. Sullivan moved OH Maddie Holman to the middle and “schooled some sophomores” along the way.

Plus OPP Phylly Knight was ill during one stretch.

“We were just a little out of sync,” Sullivan said.

But they found their rhythm just in time, with Mosca settled back into the lineup. They closed out the regular season with victories over Bishop Blanchet and Eastside Catholic to finish second in the division behind Bainbridge.

Then Prep won the Metro League tournament, blanking Lakeside and West Seattle before topping Bainbridge in the championship match, 3-2.

“We’re playing pretty good ball right now,” Sullivan said. “We’re serving tough and passing well and when you do those two things you can control the game. It was a good turn-around.”

The Panthers, ranked sixth this week, appear to be playing their best volleyball at the right time.

“They want to defend their banners,” Sullivan said.

Now that they’ve checked off the Metro tourney title, they take aim at another Sea-King District crown. But it won’t be easy. That tournament, which starts Thursday, includes top-ranked Mercer Island and No. 3 Mount Si.

“We’ll see what we can do,” Sullivan said.

Brackets

I’ll start the list of brackets with that Sea-King 3A District, which you’ll find here.

For the updated Northwest 3A District bracket, go here.

The bracket for the West Central/Southwest 3A Bi-District tournament hasn’t been updated with the results from last night’s Southwest games (but it may be by the time you check it out). You can put Prairie in as SW #1, Columbia River as SW #2 and Mountain View (Vancouver) as SW #3. The rest looks good if you go here.

And while I’m at it, you can find the 3A regional bracket involving the Greater Spokane League and Mid-Columbia League here.

Now on to 4A.

I’ll have the West Central/Southwest Bi-District bracket up tomorrow (Thursday). You can fill in most of the original bracket (all but SW 1 and 2).

For the updated KingCo 4A bracket, go here.

For the updated Northwest 4A District bracket, go here.

For the Big Nine District bracket, go here.

I can’t find a link to the 4A regional involving the GSL and Mid-Columbia Conference Saturday. But it’s very basic. Mead (GSL #1) plays Richland (MCC #1) in a winner-to-state match. Central Valley (GSL #2) plays Chiawana (MCC #2) in a loser-out match and the winner plays the Mead-Richland loser for the second berth to state.

Here are some brackets I’ve found for district tournaments in 2A on down:

For the West Central 2A bracket, go here.

For the District 1/2 2A bracket, go here.

For the Tri-District 1A bracket, go here.

For the Bi-District 1/2 2B bracket, go here.

For the Tri-District 1B bracket, go here.

Information in this post, originally published Oct.. 31, 2012, was corrected Oct. 31, 2012. A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that Newport took fifth at last year’s state tournament and Skyline eighth.

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