The undefeated Lynnwood Royals got tested beyond anything they had previously experienced this season during the first day of the 2023 WIAA 3A State Volleyball Tournament on Friday. But with two narrow, nerve-wracking wins the team survived the first day of the tourney and will play two more matches Saturday to determine the trophy they will be bringing home.
And with two more wins on Saturday, that trophy would represent the 3A state championship.
The Royals, seeded No. 2 in the state tourney, went 2-0 on Friday, squeaking past the No. 18-seeded Central Kitsap Cougars 3-2 (25-20, 23-23, 18-25, 22-25, 15-12) in a first round matchup and then slipping by the No. 10-seeded Mt. Spokane Wildcats 3-2 (25-12, 23-25, 25-20, 22-25,15-13) in a quarterfinal tilt.
Lynnwood students, parents and fans who made the trek to the Yakima SunDome for the state tournament chanted “final four, final four” after the Royals’ victory over Mt. Spokane as the Royals will next take on No. 3-seed Mead in a tourney semifinal match Saturday at noon. The winner of that match will play for the 3A state title on Saturday night.
Friday was a roller coaster of emotions for a Royals squad that had breezed through the regular season and postseason District 1 tournament unscathed. Lynnwood had rarely lost a set or even trailed in matches during their 20-0 run before arriving in Yakima but found themselves behind intermittently in all 10 sets they played on Friday, including fifth-set deficits of 11-9 to Central Kitsap and 13-12 to Mt. Spokane.
“We didn’t know if we were going to pull through but we found the trust in each other,” said an emotional Sammy Holmer after the victory over Mt. Spokane. “Every point we were going all out and I think that’s what made it for us.”
Holmer led Lynnwood in kills on Friday with 20 in the win over the Wildcats and 16 earlier in the day in the match with Central Kitsap. Down 13-12 in the final set of the Mt. Spokane contest, the junior picked up points 13 and 14 with successive kills before teammate Hannah Johnson sealed the Royals’ late come-from-behind win with a kill of her own.
With the victory over the Wildcats coming in such dramatic fashion (and around midnight Friday night), many of the Lynnwood players were noticeably drained physically and emotionally at the end of the long day.
“It was so tiring,” Holmer said of the Royals’ wild first day at the state tourney. “We have not gone to five sets all season and I think we just found the strength to push through; (and) it shows us that we can do more than we even thought we were capable of doing.”
Saturday’s 3A state tournament semifinal matches will be contested simultaneously on the floor of the Yakima SunDome. In addition to Lynnwood facing Mead, the tourney’s No. 1-seeded North Thurston Rams will take on the No. 4-seeded Lake Washington Kangaroos. The 3A state title game is set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday night.
To view the entire 2023 WIAA 3A State Volleyball Tournament bracket, click www.wpanetwork.com/m2/tourn.php?act=vt&tid=4089.
Prep Volleyball: Central Kitsap vs. Lynnwood, Nov. 17 (WIAA 3A State Volleyball Tournament first round match)
Lynnwood 3 – Central Kitsap 2 (25-20, 25-23, 18-25, 22-25, 15-12)
Lynnwood top performers:
– Charlie Thomas, 48 assists, 10 digs
– Sammy Holmer, 16 kills, 10 digs
– Paige Gessey, 15 kills, 12 digs
– Hannah Johnson, 14 kills, 4 blocks
Records: Lynnwood 21-0 overall; Central Kitsap 15-10 overall
Lynnwood next match: vs. Mt. Spokane (WIAA 3A State Volleyball Tournament quarterfinal match)
Prep Volleyball: Mt. Spokane vs. Lynnwood, Nov. 17 (WIAA 3A State Volleyball Tournament quarterfinal match)
Lynnwood 3 – Mt. Spokane 2 (25-12, 23-25, 25-20, 22-25, 15,13)
Lynnwood top performers:
– Charlie Thomas, 47 assists, 14 digs
– Sammy Hosmer, 20 kills, 12 digs
– Paige Gessey, 13 kills, 10 digs
– Jordyn Higa, 13 digs
– Hannah Johnson, 10 kills, seven blocks
Records: Lynnwood 22-0 overall; Mt. Spokane 12-6 overall
Lynnwood next match: versus Mead; Saturday, Nov. 18; noon at the Yakima SunDome (WIAA 3A State Volleyball Tournament semifinal match)
— Story and photos by Doug Petrowski