I say it every year, and this one is no different: We’ll know who the real No. 1 volleyball teams in the state for each classification Saturday night.
But I’ve still got my final rankings for you in Class 4A, 3A and 2A.
I’m a big believer in that old adage about there being no sure thing, especially in high-school sports. But I’d have to say Bellarmine Prep and Southridge are the very clear favorites in 4A and 3A, respectively. I’ve had them ranked No. 1 all season. But there are some other quality teams in both fields, and there’s usually an upset or two (or three or more) along the way.
I don’t think Kentwood played its best against the Lions in the championship match of the West Central/Southwest Bi-District tournament. Newport has been on a roll and you can never count Mead out — even without longtime coach Judy Kight. Snohomish is playing very well right now, too, and Emerald Ridge is dangerous.
Oh, and before I go any further, I want to explain that I decided not to put teams in the final rankings that did not qualify for state. I’m not sure that is really fair, especially to 2A teams like Selah and Ellensburg, which play in a really tough regional and had just two state berths available. But that’s the option I’ve chosen.
I mentioned yesterday that the I think the bottom half of the 4A bracket is brutal. We could have Bellarmine and Snohomish meeting in the quarterfinals.
Mead-Camas is a very tough opening-round match. And ER will be tested by Skyline, which I’ve put at No. 10 this week. I gave surprising Mount Vernon a hard look, too, but I think overall the Spartans have had a stronger season (of course, it’s all about how you’re playing right now).
If you look at my rankings, and the ones from the Coaches Association, one of the biggest differences is that they coaches have Eisenhower of Yakima ranked No. 6 this week. But even though that is my alma-mater, I’m not quite convinced about the quality of those Big 9 teams just yet. Ike and Wenatchee just might surprise me, but we’ll see. Wenatchee starts with Snohomish, and would quickly get my attention with an upset. Eisenhower faces Curtis, a team I’ve only recently been sold on. The winner of that one likely would face Kentwood, although Bothell hopes to have something to say about that.
If I have to go out on a limb (I hate predictions, remember), I’d pencil Bellarmine and (coin-flip) Mead in one semifinal, or possibly Bellarmine-ER. I’m a Snohomish fan, thanks largely to the high-flying Lanesha Reagan, and from a local standpoint it would be great to have the Panthers pull a stunner, but Bellarmine just seems to have too many weapons.
And I’d go Kentwood-Newport in the other semi.
In 3A, I’m anxious to see Mercer Island play. The Islanders appear to be back on their game after that loss to Mount Si a little over a week ago. I’ll tell you, that’s a tough first-round pairing against Kennedy Catholic. I’ve left the Lancers in at No. 10 — even though they lost to unranked Prairie at the West Central/Southwest Bi-District tourney. They were without their setter, Apryll Eneliko, who is a good one, and still went 21-19 in the fifth. Eneliko is expected back for state.
I’ve finally given Timberline some love in the rankings, fully convinced after the Bi-District sweep. And Ferndale gets a well-deserved spot after winning the Northwest tourney.
Never count out any Metro League teams, so watch out for Eastside Catholic and Seattle Prep. But if Eastside gets past Oak Harbor in the opening round, Southridge likely awaits in the quarterfinals. I’ll go with Southridge-MI in the upper half of the bracket (although Shadle Park is a contender, too). And in the bottom half, hmmmm, Seattle Prep-University? Why not.
That Timberline-Holy Names match in the first round should be interesting.
In 2A, I still consider Burlington-Edison a favorite, but when it gets to this time of the year you can never count out West Valley of Yakima — the defending 2A champ that won the 3A title the year before. I see those two teams clashing in one dynamic semifinal. The other? I’ll go with Capital and (coin flip again) Sehome? I’m just never as comfortable with the 2As as I am with the 4As and 3As.
OK, we’ll have more volleyball stuff later in the week. Coverage-wise, I’ll be focusing on (and writing about) 4A, but will also be blogging and tweeting 3A stuff while I’m in Lacey, too. Hope to see you there! And here are those final rankings:
1. Bellarmine Prep (Tacoma)
2. Newport (Bellevue)
3. Kentwood (Covington)
4. Mead (Spokane)
6. Emerald Ridge (Puyallup)
7. Central Valley (Spokane Valley)
9. Curtis (University Place)
10. Skyline (Sammamish)
1. Southridge (Kennewick)
2. University (Spokane)
3. Shadle Park (Spokane)
4. Mercer Island
5. Timberline (Olympia)
6. Eastside Catholic (Bellevue)
7. Seattle Prep
9. Auburn Mountainview
10. Kennedy Catholic (Burien)
2. West Valley (Yakima)
3. Capital (Olympia)
4. Sehome (Bellingham)
6. Washington (Tacoma)
7. East Valley (Spokane)
9. East Valley (Yakima)