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Volleyball dominates KingCo tournament
Beats Newport 3-0 in finals
By Matt Phelps
Mercer Island Reporter
The Mercer Island High School volleyball team continued its winning streak Friday and Saturday as they won the 3A KingCo tournament and the No. 1 seed to districts by crushing host team Mount Si and Newport.
“It is big to get the No. 1 seed to districts,” said Mercer Island volleyball coach Dino Annest. “It is good for many reasons, but this boosts our confidence.”
The No. 1 seed will give Mercer Island a first-round bye this week as they start the district tournament Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Mount Si High School.
The Islanders had the No.1 seed heading into the 3A KingCo tournament and a 15-0 record. But the unlucky draw of having to face the host team, Mount Si, during the second round didn’t faze the Islanders.
The Wildcats put up a strong fight in front of their home crowd despite being swept in three games. A 25-20 game one set the tone for the match as Amanda Nield guided the Islanders in their attack.
“She played so well,” said Islander Liz Miller. “I think it was the best game of her life.”
Nield set her teammates up with deceiving decoys, allowing the Islanders to utilize the combination of finesse and power within their offense. That strength helped Mercer Island pull out a tight 26-24 game two and eventually beat the home team with a 25-21 game three victory.
“Mount Si was playing well, they beat Skyline,” said Annest. “When we step up, we know we can beat anyone.”
The chance to show Newport that the close game to end the regular season was a product of home crowd, questionable line calls and hype was not lost on the Islanders during the finals of the tournament.
“We had good refs this time, and the gym was not at 100 percent humidity,” said Miller. “After playing them the first time, we figured out what they do and we knew how to defend it.”
On the neutral court of Mount Si, the Islanders took it to their long time nemesis and didn’t hold back.
“I told them that if we lost this match, Newport would get a trophy too, and it was all I had to say,” said Annest.
That motivation led to domination during the first game 25-13, a shock to everyone except the Mercer Island volleyball players and Annest.
Newport put up a bigger fight during the second game but fell in the end 25-20.
Islander Shayda Sanii had one of the best games of her career, at one point going 8-for-8 in kill attempts and finishing 12-for-14.
“It gives us a huge advantage to be able to switch up within our lineup and not just rely on a couple of girls to score,” said Sanii.
Sanii gives Mercer Island a weapon not many other teams have on the right side of the court.
“A lot of teams don’t utilize that, but she played great and it gives us a lot more diversity in our attack,” said Islander Abby Trimble.
The third and final game was all Mercer Island as the team allowed just 12 points.
“It was kind of a weird match since we won so easily,” said Trimble. “We were all pumped up. This win gives us an easier rout at districts.”
Mercer Island’s sweep at the tournament gives them an astonishing 51-4 record in games played within their 17-0 record for the season. The only teams to win a game this season against Mercer Island are Skyline (1), Bothell (1) and Newport (2).
The Sea-King district tournament final could see a battle of the unbeaten teams. Bishop Blanchet won the Metro tournament with ease and boasts a 16-0 record. Nathan Hale and Ingraham High Schools could also be a challenge for Mercer Island as they both went 9-1 in Metro conference play to tie atop the Sound Division during the regular season.