Lynnwood volleyball team finishes unbeaten regular season

The Lynnwood Royals celebrate their 3-1 victory over the Snohomish Panthers at Lynnwood High School on Monday; the Royals finished the 2023 regular season undefeated at 17-0.
Lynnwood’s Hannah Johnson (center) looks to spike the ball between a pair of Snohomish defenders during a Wesco League match Monday.
The Royals’ Jordan Higa controls the ball during the Lynnwood-Snohomish match Monday.
Lynnwood’s Hannah Johnson (left) and Paige Gessey attempt to block the spike attempt of Snohomish’s Sophia Red Elk during the Royals-Panthers match Monday.

After steamrolling their previous 16 opponents this year, just one more win was needed for the Lynnwood Royals to claim perfection for the 2023 prep volleyball regular season.

That 17th and final Lynnwood victory proved to be a little more challenging than some had believed it would be, but that just made it sweeter once the final whistle blew and the win was theirs.

The Royals fought off a game Snohomish Panthers squad 3-1 (21-25, 25-7, 25-19, 25-18) at Lynnwood High School on Monday to claim the 3A Wesco League regular season title and cap off an undefeated year, as Lynnwood improved to 17-0 overall and 15-0 in 3A Wesco League competition.

“It feels really amazing; honestly, it felt so good for our whole team,” said Lynnwood senior Jordyn Higa. “And just to finish the season how we had dreamed of doing it, it was great.”

The Royals not only were undefeated this year but won 15 of their 17 matches with 3-0 sweeps. Lynnwood lost only two sets this season, the first set in their match against the Panthers on Monday and a single set to Edmonds-Woodway on Oct. 9.

With their dominance over the Wesco this year, the Royals will be the No.1 seed in the upcoming District 1 3A Volleyball Tournament that begins with play-in games on Thursday, Nov. 2; the team will also likely be one of the top seeds in the 3A state tournament that takes place later in November.

While the upcoming postseason tournaments loom large on the horizon, the team’s undefeated regular season was the focus of the postgame celebration Monday night following their win over Snohomish.

After falling in the opening set 21-25, the Royals came out strong in the second set, racing out to the 25-7 win. But the Panthers weren’t ready to give in quite yet, jumping out to early leads in both the third and fourth sets only to see Lynnwood come from behind in each to grab set victories and the match.

Taryn Dillon earned the final point of the night for the Royals, looping a soft shot over a couple Panthers blockers to finish off Lynnwood’s big win.

The final point was especially gratifying for Dillon, a senior who sees limited court time on a team packed with talent.

“I get in there only so often into games, so when I’m in there I really want to make a difference,” Dillon said. “It was so fun; I love my girls so much.”

Paige Gessey led Lynnwood in kills with 17. Tthe senior outside hitter said she liked the effort she saw from all her Royals teammates on Monday.

“You know, I think we all had to just really work together,” Gessey said. “We knew Snohomish had lost to a couple of teams but that didn’t mean we wanted to come in complacent. So I think the biggest thing was we just wanted to bring some fire and all-out energy.”

Despite coming into Monday’s matchup with an overall mark of 7-8, the Panthers showed no fear going up against the undefeated Royals. Snohomish won the first set, something that Gessey felt rocked her team.

“That kind of humbled us a little bit,” Gessey explained. “It made us realize we’re actually going to have to play our game to get the win. It doesn’t matter if it’s Senior Night or that Snohomish doesn’t have as good a record as us. Everyone is kind of even — that’s how we come into our games: Everyone has the same record, it doesn’t matter, anyone can beat anyone.”

While the Lynnwood mindset is to think “anyone can beat anyone,” nobody has beaten the Royals this year, satisfying a goal the team actually talked about as far back as August.

“We set that goal from the very beginning,” Higa said. “And we really decided we wanted to push ourselves as far as we possibly can. And we knew in our heads that we could do it.”

“I think we really just believed in ourselves and we knew if we could mentally do it we could physically do it,” Higa added.

With the District 1 tournament next on the calendar for the Royals, are there new goals set by the team?

“I think honestly just trying our best throughout the rest of this time that we have together and be mentally strong with it,” Higa said.



Lynnwood 3, Snohomish 1 (21-25, 25-7, 25-19, 25-18)

Top performers:

Kills – Paige Gessey (Lynnwood) 17

Assists – Charlie Thomas (Lynnwood) 36

Digs – Kelsey Nichols (Snohomish) 19

Blocks – Hannah Johnson (Lynnwood) 4

Aces – Kelsey Nichols (Snohomish) 3

Records: Lynnwood 15-0 in 3A Wesco League, 17-0 overall; Snohomish 7-8 in 3A Wesco League, 7-9 overall

Lynnwood next match: versus opponent to be determined; 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7 at Lynnwood High School (quarterfinal round of District 1 3A tournament)

— Story and photos by Doug Petrowski

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