Undefeated Lynnwood volleyball team advances to 3A state tournament

The Lynnwood volleyball team celebrates after winning the final point of their District 1 3A tournament semifinal match against Shorecrest on Thursday at Marysville-Pilchuck High School.
Lynnwood’s Charlie Thomas (left) and Paige Gessey are all smiles after the team’s district tournament victory over Shorecrest on Thursday.
Lynnwood’s Eva Sum gets set to serve Thursday.

With much-coveted trips to the 3A state volleyball tournament on the line, both the Lynnwood Royals and the Meadowdale Mavericks took to the courts at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in District 1 3A Volleyball Tournament semifinal matches — but only one of the Edmonds School District squads was able to secure their ticket to state on Thursday.

Lynnwood, the No. 1 seed in the district tournament, took care of business quickly and shut out the No. 4-seed Shorecrest Highlanders 3-0 (25-11, 25-20, 25-14) to clinch a spot in the 20-team 3A state tournament that begins Nov. 17 at the Yakima SunDome.

Meadowdale, the district tourney’s No.3 seed, fell to the No. 2-seeded Shorewood Stormrays 3-1 (25-22, 13-25, 25-22, 25-14) on Thursday but is still alive for a state tournament berth. The Mavericks will face Oak Harbor in a district tourney third-place match on Saturday, Nov. 11; the winner will slip into one of the last remaining state tournament slots.

The Royals, undefeated in 19 matches this season, breezed through their district semifinal against the Highlanders. Lynnwood dominated the first set before Shorecrest showed some life in the second, even leading 17-15 at one point.

But the Royals outscored the Highlanders 10-3 down the stretch to win that pivotal second set 25-20 and then rolled to a 25-14 victory in the third set.

The match win set off a big celebration by the Royals, who will be returning to the state tournament after qualifying for it last year for the first time since 2003. The team went 1-2 last year at the SunDome but has high hopes of bringing home a trophy — maybe even a state championship — this time around.

“Absolutely; I think we can do it,” said senior middle blocker Hannah Johnson. “Last year we got a taste of it. We knew we could do it; we were just one place short of a trophy. This year we know we can do it.”

Johnson said she believes the team has all the parts needed to make a deep run at the state tournament. “We’ve had great chemistry this year — our passing has been amazing. Our setter, Charlie (Thomas), she’s been working so hard running the offense.”

Thomas had 38 assists in the victory over Shorecrest.

Johnson also pointed to the squad’s biggest outside hitters, senior Paige Gessey and junior Sammy Holmer, as key components to the Royals’ success this season. Each had 15 kills on Thursday.

“I think they really hold the team together,” Johnson said of Gessey and Holmer. “I mean they’re both six-rotation players so I think everybody really trusts them front row and back row. We can count on them even if we’re out-of-system … I think we all look to them as a go-to and they’re always on point.”

Before the Royals head to Yakima next week the team has a chance to pick up hardware on Saturday — a District 1 tournament championship trophy. The team will be pitted against Shorewood in the district title match, slated to begin at 1 p.m. at Marysville-Pilchuck.

For Meadowdale, Thursday’s loss to Shorewood in their semifinal match was disheartening for the team and their fans, considering how tight the two squads battled in the opening two sets. 

After the Stormrays squeaked by 25-22 in the first set, the Mavs waltzed through the second with an easy 25-13 win then led 16-12 in the third set before Shorewood came from behind to take it 25-22.

Mavericks coach Bart Foley acknowledged that Shorewood’s experience and poise bested his squad.

“We lost our composure,” he said. “Some of that is the youth and inexperience on our side. But I give credit to Shorewood — they created a little bit of that too. And conversely you saw that they kept composure. When they were down in that second set they didn’t get too down.”

The Stormrays were led by senior Stella Foley with 22 kills (Stella Folley is the daughter of the Meadowdale coach). A pair of sophomores, Ja’elle Jenkins and Violet Dubois paced the Mavericks’ offensive attack; Jenkins had 10 kills while Dubois added nine.

Bart Foley’s message to his squad after the match was to consider the loss a learning lesson and quickly move on.

“I just got through telling the girls it’s not about what happens, it’s kind of what happens next,” Foley said. “You’ve got to learn from it. And we’re going to bounce back on Saturday. We still have a chance — and a good chance — to go to state.”

The Mavericks, winners of nine of their last 11 matches, will face an Oak Harbor team on Saturday that is seeded No. 9 in the tournament but who has also gone 9-2 in their last 11 matches. 

“It’s a good Oak Harbor team that we’ll face,” Foley said. “But we’ll be ready; we’ll be ready for it.”

To view the entire tournament bracket, visit www.wpanetwork.com/wiaa/brackets/tournament.php?act=view&tournament_id=4099

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Prep volleyball: Shorecrest vs. Lynnwood, Nov. 9 (District 1 3A volleyball tournament semifinal game)

Lynnwood 3, Shorecrest 0 (25-11, 25-20, 25-14)

Records: Lynnwood 19-0 overall; Shorecrest 15-5 overall

Lynnwood next game: versus Shorewood; 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11 (tournament championship match)

Prep volleyball: Meadowdale vs. Shorewood, Nov. 9 (District 1 3A volleyball tournament semifinal game)

Shorewood 3, Meadowdale 1 (25-22, 13-25, 25-22, 25-14)

Records: Meadowdale 13-6 overall; Shorewood 18-2 overall

Meadowdale next game: versus Oak Harbor; 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 11; (winner-to-state game)

— Story and photos by Doug Petrowski

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