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Mercer Island volleyball fourth in state | Highest state placing in three decades
This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Mercer Island girls volleyball team. After all, the team lost four key seniors last season and had to adapt to a new setter. But in addition to rebuilding itself, the team has continued to thrive, winning the KingCo and District titles.
The Islanders carried that momentum into the state tournament Thursday and Friday at the Toyota Center in Kennewick, Wash., to place fourth, the highest of any Islander volleyball team since 1978 when the team finished third.
“It was exactly what you ask of a team when you get to state,” said Mercer Island coach Dino Annest. “They all left it out on the floor.”
Islanders bring home fourth
During the game for fourth place, the Islanders and Mount Spokane played a tight match, exchanging leads and pounding the ball. Mercer Island came out ahead 25-18. Mount Spokane came back during the second game, winning 25-22 to tie the match. The competitiveness of the second game carried over into the third but Mercer Island was able to take the lead with a 25-22 win. The fourth game would be the last as the Islanders closed out Mount Spokane the same way they opened, with a 25-18 victory to take the fourth-place trophy.
The biggest key to winning was Mercer Island’s defense. Islanders Shayda Sanii, Chelsea Jurkovich and Janelle Chow combined for 99 digs during the match.
“The returning players from last year were really hungry,” said Annest. “They saw what they thought was their last chance go by last year. I never had to tell them what they had to do off the court. This was a dream team.”
Islanders beat Camas to start
Mercer Island cruised through the first round of the tournament Thursday by a 3-1 margin over Camas High School. Camas played the Islanders tough during the first game but ultimately lost thanks to strong Mercer Island defense, 25-19. But the Islanders got too confident and Camas put the normally dominating Islanders back on their heels with a 25-12 loss during the second game.
Mercer Island came back strong, again behind tough defense, as they took the third game 25-14. The Islanders crushed Camas during the fourth and final game by 10 points, 25-15.
Islanders Ariel Dewey, Sanii, Chow and Jurkovich combined for 55 digs during the match and Dewey assisted 28 times during the first state match of her career. Sanii dominated from the service position with five aces during the four-game match.
MI loses during second round
Mercer Island faced Shadle Park High School during the second round and came up short, 3-1, despite a big third-game comeback. Shadle Park took control early with a close 25-21 victory during the second game. Mercer Island got close during the second game as well but again came up just short 25-22. In dire need of continuous momentum, the Islanders finally broke through in the clutch during the third game with a narrow 25-23 victory. But the fourth game would see Mercer Island get a taste of something rare; a loss, 25-22. Shadle Park was a powerhouse, with the Islanders being the only team to win a game against them throughout the tournament.
The loss bounced Mercer Island into a loser-out game against Meadowdale High School.
The Islanders drew Meadowdale during both team’s loser-out match to finish the first day of play. The match started a half hour late as the tired Islanders came straight from their quarterfinal match.
But Mercer Island would fight through the fatigue to come out on top, 3-1. Chow’s defense, including 30 digs, led the Islanders to victory.
Mercer Island rolled to a 25-18 win to start the match. Despite the momentum of a 10-point win during the second game, 25-15, the Islanders reverted to one of their biggest problems of the season by losing the third game 25-21 and letting Meadowdale back into the contest. But unlike in years past at state, Mercer Island came back with force and confidence during the fourth game to win 25-19.
Sanii led the Islanders with 12 kills and Sabrina Rasmussen with 11 kills on offense.
“Sabrina got a bunch of kills when she got mad,” said Annest.
The Islanders finish the season with an overall record of 23-4 and an undefeated record against KingCo opponents.
Last year, the Islanders dominated the regular season but lost during the district finals. That set-back at districts helped to crush the Islander’s momentum and led to an early exit from state in 2007.
“Everyone had really good moments,” said Annest. “There isn’t one player that stood out.”