When the White River High volleyball squad lost its first match in the Class 2A state volleyball tournament Friday, the team realized it could not place any better than fifth.
But that didn’t matter, as White River junior outside hitter Dannie Stroud noted on the way home from eastern Washington Sunday during a phone conversation.
“That loss against West Valley (Spokane) in four sets on Friday morning brought us closer together, making us realize that every player on the team is a critical cog in the machine,” she said. “Coach (Stryder) Argo told us that now that the pressure was off, we had nothing to lose and we should just go out there, have fun and play the best volleyball we can as a group.”
The state tournament, hosted at the Tri-Cities’ Toyota Center Friday and Saturday, saw the Hornets place eighth.
After defeating White River 25-19, 22-25, 25-18 and 25-10, the Spokane team went on to finish third. Pullman claimed the state championship crown for the second year in a row, by sinking the Selah Vikings.
After the opening-round loss, the unified WRHS squad, which included three sportsmanship winners in Stroud, Haley Valalla and Erinne Clements, held on for an enjoyable ride into the consolation trophy round.
The Hornet girls overcame a first set loss to Port Angeles, but eventually whipped the Roughriders Friday afternoon by scores of 17-25, 25-23, 25-19 and 25-12.
Stroud and setter Jailyn Van Sickle combined for 34 kills and 36 digs.
The next sting operation for White River came against River Ridge of Lacey and both rivers were cresting at their banks with emotional fervor, as River Ridge had just swept Interlake High out of further tournament competition in straight sets 25-23, 25-14, 25-12.
That ensuing match with the Hawks of River Ridge was a barnburner, but White River prevailed, sending River Ridge home in a five set, see-saw affair 22-25, 25-20, 21-25, 25-23 and in the sudden death overtime set 15-10.
The tandem of VanSickle and Stroud once again made its mark against River Ridge, combining for 37 kills and 45 digs. But the foursome of senior Emily Peloli and juniors Clements, Vallala and Kaytee Hodgson made its presence known as well, as it was a huge part of the triumph with 15 kills, 25 assists and 44 digs, frequently setting up chances for VanSickle and Stroud to blast shots over the opposition’s net.
White River now had momentum heading in the trophy round with Lynden’s Lady Lions.
Lynden held the height advantage, will all its starters standing 5 feet, 11 inches or taller.
Just as it had all tournament long, White River immediately placed itself in harm’s way by dropping the first set 25-18. Then the Hornets struggled back into contention, edging Lynden in the wild second encounter 27-25. The two battled back and forth in the early going of the third set, but Lynden stubbornly pulled away as it went on a nine-point run to win 25-16.
The feisty Hornets showed their Buckley grit, defeating the Lions with a little roll of their own to capture the flag in the fourth contest 25-17.
The strain of keeping a considerably larger and stronger Lynden club at bay took its toll as White River relinquished the sudden death set 15-11, to finish eighth in state.
“I have never seen our team play that well,” Argo said. “I am so proud of all of our girls, We did the best we could and played absolutely amazing defense. The girls gave it their all and I am pleased with how they did.”
The Hornets wound up with a 23-5 overall mark for the 2010 campaign.