Prairie sweeps North Thurston for title | 3A Volleyball
Despite a major stumble in last weekend's bi-district volleyball tournament, the Prairie Falcons never lost faith. Instead, their losses served...
Special to The Seattle Times
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LACEY — Despite a major stumble in last weekend's bi-district volleyball tournament, the Prairie Falcons never lost faith. Instead, their losses served as motivation.
And as the rest of the state has learned, an angry Prairie team is a dangerous Prairie team. It's also a state championship team.
Combining that motivation with the biggest, strongest attack in the field, the Falcons swept North Thurston on Saturday night, 25-20, 25-22, 25-16, to win the Class 3A state championship at St. Martin's University.
"It's unbelievable," Prairie senior Karlee Lubenow said. "We've worked all our lives for this. ... It's really just indescribable. It hasn't settled in yet."
It was just one week ago that the ninth-ranked Falcons had a different feeling, after suffering a pair of losses in the bi-district tournament and finishing fifth.
"I wouldn't say it humbled us, because I don't think we're a cocky team, but ... it was kind of a reality check for us," Lubenow said. "It was like, OK, now this is what we need to do."
So, when adversity hit Prairie again in Saturday's championship match, they didn't flinch. Down 21-18 in the second set, the Falcons rallied to tie the set at 22, and then closed it out with three straight aces from Carissa Campbell.
After winning that second set, the Falcons cruised in the third, jumping out to a 7-2 lead and never looking back.
Even in defeat, North Thurston had few regrets. With the school located less than two miles from St. Martin's, the Rams played each match in front of a raucous, partisan crowd. They rode that emotion — and solid, unwavering play — to the best finish in school history.
"We couldn't have asked for anything more," Rams coach Micah McBride said. "I told the kids, they created an experience, and we enjoyed every second of it."
Prairie reached the title match with a three-set win over Holy Names earlier Saturday, and North Thurston advanced thanks to a sweep of No. 7 Southridge.
Southridge took home third place after a 25-19, 25-16, 26-28, 25-11 win over Holy Names. Suns coach John Lengphounpraseut said he hoped the third-place finish would be a sign of things to come for his team, which has no seniors.
Holy Names' fourth-place finish was its best at a state tournament.
In a match between two first-time state trophy recipients, Auburn Mountainview got past Glacier Peak for fifth, 25-18, 25-22, 20-25, 25-20.
Mountainview has reached the state tournament every year since 2006, but first-year coach Nicole Claudon was able to guide her alma mater to that elusive trophy. Glacier Peak, which opened in 2008, finished sixth for its first trophy.
Considered the favorite entering this tournament, top-ranked Mercer Island went home with a trophy — just not the one the Islanders expected.
Mercer Island secured seventh place with a three-set win over No. 4 Seattle Prep, 25-14, 25-21, 25-23. The Islanders were knocked into the consolation bracket after losing a five-setter to Prairie in the first round.
"It says a lot about how we respond to setbacks," Islanders coach Susan McKay said. "(Friday) was a really emotional day, so they played with a lot of purpose and maturity today."
Prep, which finished third last year, advanced to the seventh-place game by defeating No. 2 Mount Si in a loser-out game Saturday morning. Mount Si, which had placed at state four of the last five years, failed to bring home a trophy this time.