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Originally published November 9, 2012 at 10:22 PM | Page modified November 9, 2012 at 10:24 PM

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Jackson back in title pursuit | 4A Volleyball

The Timberwolves, seeking a second state championship in three years, took down Emerald Ridge 3-1 to reach Saturday's semifinals.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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LACEY — There was no denying Haley MacDonald.

No way she wasn't playing in Jackson's quarterfinal match against sixth-ranked Emerald Ridge at the Class 4A state volleyball tournament Friday, sprained ankle or not.

"I would have argued," the senior setter said.

After sitting out the Timberwolves' opening win over Gig Harbor, MacDonald returned to help them beat the young Jaguars, 3-1,

Now, they don't plan to be denied their second state title in three years. They remember last year's semifinal loss to Olympia, the eventual champion, and subsequent fourth-place finish.

"We learned a lot from last year by not winning," MacDonald said. "I really think every one of us is going to come in very focused and ready to go."

No. 2 Jackson (28-3) plays No. 3 Bellarmine Prep (29-3) in the semis Saturday at 3:15 p.m. at Saint Martin's University.

The other semifinal, also at 3:15, will feature top-ranked Mead (29-1) against No. 8 Olympia (23-9), the defending champion.

The championship match is scheduled for 8:15 p.m.

MacDonald, a four-year starter who has signed with Washington State, turned her right ankle during practice Wednesday and had significant swelling — enough that she thought she might not be able to play at all this weekend.

"I was in panic mode," she said.

Her mother is a physical therapist.

"She knew exactly what to do," said MacDonald, who had 38 assists against Emerald Ridge.

Victoria Funke proved to be a more-than-adequate replacement against Gig Harbor, dishing out 35 assists in the 3-0 victory.

"She's a setter in club and she's a great setter," coach Ashley Allen said. "We were very comfortable putting her out there."

Emmy Allen took control in both matches with 18 kills in each.

Sophomore Jenna Mullen did her part for Emerald Ridge with 22 kills. She had 21 in a 3-0 victory over No. 7 Newport in the first round.

Ashley Allen said she expects a better effort in the semifinals than the one she got from the team last year.

"I think they're going to come out swinging," she said. "They're going to be aggressive. I don't think it's that they want it any more than they wanted it last year, it's just they have a little more maturity and they know how to handle that."

Mead clearly is on a mission, too, after a disappointing tournament last year. The Panthers went 1-2 and failed to earn a trophy for the first time since 1998. They didn't drop a set in sailing to the semis.

Notes

• Skyline came in ranked No. 6 after winning the KingCo tournament, but lost in the first round to Union, 3-0. The Spartans then beat Wenatchee.

• Newport rebounded from the loss to Emerald Ridge to eliminate Gig Harbor, 3-0. The Knights play No. 10 Richland in another elimination match. A win would give them a second straight trophy.

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