Mercer Island, the defending Class 3A state volleyball champion, has forfeited six early-season matches after self-reporting the use of an ineligible player, according to athletic director Mark Zmuda.
“We found an eligibility issue with one of our players and reported it to KingCo,” he said, adding it was a “clerical error.”
For confidentiality reasons, Zmuda would not explain what was the cause of the ineligibility.
The initial report was made about a week and a half ago and the KingCo athletic directors ruled in favor of the forfeitures on Oct. 20.
The Islanders forfeited nonleague victories to Eastside Catholic and Seattle Prep (they lost an early match to Holy Names) and KingCo 3A/2A wins to Interlake, Lake Washington, Liberty and Juanita.
The player was deemed eligible beginning the week of Sept. 29 and Mercer Island has gone 7-0 since to sit at 7-4 in league play.
That gives Bellevue (10-1) the regular-season title, regardless of the outcome of the match tonight (Monday) vs. MI. The Islanders will be No. 2 outright with a win over Bellevue (they won 3-0 on Oct. 30). If they lose, they would fall into a second-place tie with Liberty (which will be 2A for playoff purposes) and possibly Lake Washington (6-5, which plays Juanita (5-6) tonight.
“It came as a huge shock to everyone, to me and to the players,” coach Susan McKay said of the eligibility situation.
She said the players are upset they do not have a chance for a third straight KingCo title, but realize their post-season goals are still intact.
“They have worked so hard this season,” McKay said. “But while the KingCo championship is definitely a big honor, ultimately it’s not what we’re playing for.”