It’s rarely easy to go through a season unbeaten in any high-school sport, particularly volleyball.
And especially if you play a challenging schedule.
So, coach Chris Leverenz admitted she felt as though she had a monkey on her back when top-ranked Auburn Riverside rolled into the 3A state tournament with an unblemished record.
“I’ve been nervous like for two weeks, going, ‘When’s it going to happen?’ You think you’ve gotta to lose sometime. I can’t believe we made it through, and we played some tough competition.”
But the Ravens (36-0) ended a perfect season in a perfect manner, winning their first state volleyball championship. Led by hitter Precious Atafua and setter Carson Heilborn – both tourney MVP candidates (it went to Atafua, with Heilborn making the all-tournament team as well), they fought through a tough bracket with big swing after big swing, dropping just one set along the way.
You can read my final story on the 3A tourney here.
Auburn Riverside, which won the huge Linda Sheridan Classic earlier this season, rolled past No. 2 Columbia River in the semis and No. 3 Capital in the final, both 3-0.
Those were two exceptional opponents, as was No. 6 Mercer Island, the team to take a set off AR in the tournament. The Islanders, 2013 state champions, lost only to the Ravens in the tournament to finish fifth. Mercer Island is an impressive 10-2 in the past three state tournaments, and with junior hitter Jemma Yeadon and sophomore setter Natalie Robinson returning, next year’s team should make a run at a fourth straight trophy.
But the 2015 preseason favorite just might be Columbia River, which wound up third with only two seniors on the squad.
No. 5 Lakeside, which reached the semifinals before losing twice to finish fourth, has loads of talent back, too, and I expect coach Katie Wilson to have them pushing for an even higher finish next season.
And talk about young – No. 9 Holy Names had just one senior on the roster and should be hungry after going out in two last weekend. Junior Angelou Dunton would have been an all-tournament choice in all likelihood if the team had stuck around longer. No. 7 Edmonds Woodway (1-2) has a lot to build around, too.
Unranked Seattle Prep showed a lot determination to claim the eight-place trophy after losing to Auburn Riverside in the opening round. No. 10 Southridge (sixth) and unranked North Thurston (seventh) had plenty to be proud of, too, and No. 4 Kamiakin simply had a tough road, going 1-2 with losses to Columbia River and MI.
There is plenty to look forward to next season! Leverenz is a great coach and no doubt will put together another strong team. But let’s let the Ravens savor this title for now.