A highly-anticipated showdown between local volleyball powers played out the evening of Oct. 18 in the White River gymnasium and, in the end, it was the host Hornets celebrating a victory over Fife.
White River started strong, rattling off 11 straight points to begin the first game and going on to win 25-13. Fife showed some grit, winning the second 25-23, but the home team polished off the win by taking the next two games 25-17 and 25-22.
White River was led by its usual cast of standouts. Hope Baldyga registered 37 assists, Megan Vandegrift came up with 29 digs and Morgan Budinich and Hannah Nelson had 10 and nine kills, respectively. Outside hitter Keegan Strobeck came through with 16 kills and 12 digs.
The teams are clearly the class of the South Puget Sound League 2A and entered the night just a game apart in the standings. White River was on top with a 10-0 league record and Fife sat second at 9-1, with its only loss coming in late September to the Hornets.
Coach Lina Randall preaches a “no fear” mantra and it showed when her Hornets took the floor in front of a raucous crowd.
“We walked into that match expecting to win,” she said, noting that the rematch with the Trojans had been circled on the calendar since the two met three weeks earlier.
“They’re deep-down, hard-core competitors,” Randall said of her senior-laden squad.
The Hornets added to their win total Thursday night, beating Foss 3-0 in the final home match of the campaign. The regular season ends this week; White River traveled Tuesday for a second meeting with Foss and concludes Thursday at Evergreen.
White River was ranked No. 3 in the most recent poll by the Washington State Volleyball Coaches Association, trailing No. 1 Burlington-Edison and No. 2 Archbishop Murphy. But the true story will be told during postseason play.
The SPSL league tournament will take place Oct. 28 at Fife, followed by the West Central District tourney Nov. 3-4 at Franklin Pierce High School. The Hornets will be gunning for a return trip to the state tournament, slated for Nov. 10-11 at St. Martin’s University in Lacey.
The Hornets are enjoying a remarkable two-season run of success. Last year’s squad went undefeated through the regular season and captured a district title before placing fourth at the state 2A tourney.