V-ball takes No. 4 seed to state

Mercer Island Reporter

  • Monday, November 24, 2008 8:41pm
  • Sports

Mercer Island Reporter

The Mercer Island girls volleyball team beat Seattle Prep 3-1 Saturday during the district tournament to earn the No. 4 seed to state. But the game of the tournament for the Islanders came earlier that morning when the team pushed Issaquah to the brink in a five game match. Despite the loss, the match cemented Mercer Island as a clear contender this weekend at the state tournament.

They are playing with confidence, said Mercer Island head coach Dino Annest. “They are getting back to how they were playing at the beginning of the season against the 4A teams. They really want to win as a team.”

The match against Issaquah was one of big plays and continuously shifting momentum. Neither team had been on a run of longer than two points when Mercer Island scored five consecutive points to pull ahead 22-19. That lead held until game point when Islander Abby Trimble spiked the ball through a two defender block to give the Islanders a 25-22 win. The Islanders held a 20-16 lead during the second game and were on the brink of putting Issaquah away, but the Eagles fought back — outscoring Mercer Island 7-1 of the final eight points of the game to win 25-23.

The shifts in momentum continued throughout the third game as Issaquah rode an 8-3 run to a 25-17 win. But Mercer Island was not about to go quietly as they began the fourth game with a 16-5 run of their own, the biggest of the entire match.

“I think we have improved since we played them last and we feel better as a team,” said Islander Amanda Nield.

But the Islanders’ 18-10 lead was challenged as Issaquah battled back. A kill by Liz Miller and an unforced error on the Eagles was the only scoring break in a 10-2 run by Issaquah. With the score tied 20-20 sophomore Janelle Chow took control of service and the game. The Islander put up four serves that were either un-returnable or hit the hard wood for an ace, giving Mercer Island the lead and momentum back. Despite a kill by Issaquah to regain service, Miller pounded the ball past Eagle defenders for the game winning point 25-21 and force a fifth game.

“We have all played big at one time or another through this tournament and Liz is getting better with each game,” said Nield. “Janelle is just flat out consistent.”

The teams played a tight fifth game with Mercer Island tying the game at 10-10 on a Chow knuckle-ball spike. But the Eagles would out score Mercer Island 5-1 to take the final game 15-11.

The Islanders began the tournament at Blanchet High School in Seattle with two blistering victories over Metro schools. First the Islanders swept Ingraham High School right out of the tournament with a 25-16, 25-20, 25-21 victory thanks to Nield’s 38 assists and Chow’s six aces and 16 kills. The Islanders then went on to overcome a 12-point effort in their first game against Bainbridge Island and win in five games 12-25, 25-17, 25-21, 15-25 and 15-6.

“They are getting better at adapting to different hitters and defenses,” said Annest. “And they are playing better defense.”

Islander Carrie Williams led the squad with 24 digs during the match.

Mercer Island lost to Skyline 3-1 following the game against Issaquah.

The Islanders will travel to Kennewick, Wash., for the state tournament Friday and Saturday at the Toyota Center.

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