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Originally published Saturday, November 3, 2012 at 8:21 PM

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Senior Brenna Bruil leads Auburn Riverside back to 4A state tournament

The Ravens earned a 3-0 victory over Kentwood in an elimination match to earn a return to the championship tournament.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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COVINGTON — This could be the beginning of a good run for a young Auburn Riverside volleyball team.

But it's the end of road for senior Brenna Bruil. And she made sure to make the most of her final chance to return to the Class 4A state tournament.

"Her leadership made all the difference for us," coach Chris Leverenz said after the 10th-ranked Ravens beat rival Kentwood, 3-0, in a loser-out, winner-to-state match in the West Central/Southwest 4A Bi-District tournament Saturday at Kentwood.

And her hitting, too.

Auburn Riverside (20-7), which went unbeaten in the South Puget Sound League North Division, faced elimination after Friday's quarterfinal loss to Union of Vancouver.

Bruil would have none of that.

"We just played with heart and we did not give up," she said. "We came in with the mindset that we wanted to win and we were going to play together."

Bruil was a freshman tag-along when Riverside last went to state in 2009, placing third. She and Leverenz said team chemistry has been the difference in the Ravens' return.

"We are fortunate to be so connected and united, and we all want to win," Bruil said.

Chemistry also played a part in Bellarmine Prep's ride to a second straight bi-district title, according to junior star Courtney Schwan. The Lions (28-3) rolled past No. 4 Camas (26-4) in the final, 3-0, and are intent on erasing the disappointment of last year's eighth-place finish at state.

"Our goal is to win this year," said Schwan, who pounded 20 kills in the championship match to give her 86 for the tournament (along with 44 digs and 15 aces over four matches).

"I think we have the talent and it's whether we come together or not."

Bellarmine and Camas had to go five sets to win their semifinal matches. The Lions jumped up 2-0 on Union of Vancouver, then dropped two straight before winning 15-7 in the fifth. Camas went back and forth with No. 6 Emerald Ridge. It was 10-10 in the fifth, then the Papermakers pulled away to win, 15-11.

ER (28-6) wound up third with a 3-0 win over Union (17-7).

In all, eight teams earned state berths. Puyallup (25-6) joined the party by eliminating Kent-Meridian.

Olympia (21-9), the defending state champion, knocked out Rogers, and Gig Harbor (16-6) sent home No. 7 Curtis.

Sandy Ringer: 206-718-1512 or sringer@seattletimes.com

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