Volleyball wins KingCo tournament, beats Wildcats

Islander Shayda Sanii bump sets for her teammate Kaylia Balinbin during the KingCo tournament at Sammamish High School on Friday. - Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter
Islander Shayda Sanii bump sets for her teammate Kaylia Balinbin during the KingCo tournament at Sammamish High School on Friday.
— image credit: Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter

The Mercer Island volleyball team has been the picture of domination in league play during the past two seasons, and the 3A KingCo tournament on Friday and Saturday was no different. The Islanders won their second straight league tournament title by beating rival Mount Si, 3-1. The team also pushed its win streak against 3A KingCo opponents to 27 consecutive matches.

“We are still improving,” said Janelle Chow, who was named co-MVP for the tournament. “We have more unity, and we are still getting to know each other. This is a great win, but we aren’t done yet.”

The title gives Mercer Island the No. 1 seed to districts on Thursday at Sammamish High School.

The Islanders won the league title on Saturday by beating Mount Si, 3-1. The victory is the sixth against the Wildcats during the past two seasons.

“We knew we had to defend our title,” said Islander Shayda Sanii. “We are ‘team’-based, and teams always win.”

The two teams battled to a 1-1 tie during the first two games, despite Mercer Island outscoring the Wildcats, 47-36.

But Mercer Island took control during the third game. A 9-0 run gave the Islanders an early 12-2 lead that would prove to be insurmountable for Mount Si.

The Islanders rode that lead to a two-games-to-one advantage, as a block by Sabrina Rasmussen finished off the Cats, 25-13. Mount Si struggled to score during the game, earning only four kills and one block.

The fourth and final game would prove to be closer but ultimately ended with the same result. Mercer Island jumped out to a 7-2 lead and never trailed during the game. The Wildcats tied the score briefly at 14-14 before Sanii caught fire. The power hitter brought down the hammer, scoring six of the Islanders final 11 points with a kill.

“We just didn’t want it to go to a fifth game,” said Sanii. “We really wanted to defend our title and go undefeated.”

The game came to an end as Islander Ally Bray scored the final point on a tip kill. Mercer Island won 25-20.

The Islanders got a scare from Bellevue during their first match of the tournament. Despite a 3-0 win, the Wolverines forced close contests, scoring 21, 19 and 19 points respectively, during the match.

The title and continued win streak contributed to Mercer Island coach Dino Annest earning his second Coach of the Year award.

“It is more because of [the players] than me,” said Annest. “They earned it by doing what we ask.”

Chow was moved by her MVP award.

“As a freshman, sophomore and junior, I looked up to the girls that won the MVP, and I never thought I would get that,” said Chow. “Earning it is a great feeling.”

Islanders Chelsea Jurkovich, Ally Bray and Ariel Dewey all earned all-KingCo first team honors.

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