The Mercer Island volleyball team (7-7) has gone through highs and lows this season, with its regular-season finale against Bellevue being no different. In a 3-2 victory over the Bellevue Wolverines (13-3) on Oct. 30, the Islanders finished the game, and their regular season, on a high note.
“We’ve had a lot of highs and lows throughout the season,” Mercer Island head coach Samantha Marziello said. “Sometimes it’s hard to get back from those lows. I think today, when we were ebbing and flowing, they did a really good job of coming back and winning.”
In the first set, the two rivals went back and forth before the Islanders pulled ahead to win the set, 25-20, behind stellar play at the net from senior middle blocker Quinn Casey. The Wolverines, who had already secured the 3A KingCo regular-season title, won the second and third sets (25-13, 25-17).
Heading into the fourth set, Marziello said the team was more focused on how it played, not necessarily the result.
“We keep it super positive from a coaching perspective,” Marziello said. “We didn’t care what the outcome was, let’s just play our game. That took a lot of the pressure off our girls, and let them just play.”
After being tied at eight in the fourth set, the Islanders pulled away from the Wolverines, and a pair of aces from sophomore Campell Burr secured the set, 25-15, to force a deciding fifth set. Mercer Island never trailed in the final set, winning 15-10. The win evened the series between the two rivals at one apiece. Earlier in the season, Bellevue rallied from a 2-0 deficit against Mercer Island to win 3-2 (24-26, 25-22, 25-20, 29-27, 15-13) on Oct. 7.
“This is a big rivalry for our girls,” Marziello said. “But at the end of the day, we were playing for ourselves and the pride of Mercer Island. Whatever the outcome was, we are happy as long as they left it all out on the court.”
The Islanders had strong leadership throughout the regular season from their captains, Casey, senior right side hitter Anika Iverson and junior middle blocker Alex Thon. Marziello said the captains helped the team set the tone and play hard through the long season.
Marziello said she was inspired by the players and the way they supported and cared for each other.
“They are really, truly, great people,” Marziello said. “We have each others’ back 110 percent. No matter what, win or lose, I feel like our team really sticks together and supports each other.”
The two teams will meet again in the first round of the 3A KingCo tournament with a spot in the championship game on the line.
“I think Bellevue is going to bring it, no matter what,” Marziello said. “We’re going to erase this game from our mind and go into it again like we have to win and prove something to ourselves. If we win once, that’s almost luck, if we win twice, we’ll be really happy about that.”