Columbia River falls in 3A volleyball semifinal

By Micah Rice, Columbian sports editor

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LACEY — Columbia River came up short in the Class 3A state volleyball semifinals Saturday.

That was mostly due to its opponent standing tall.

Holy Names Academy of Seattle beat the Chieftains in four sets (20-25, 25-23, 25-22, 27-25) at St. Martin’s University.

Holy Names’ defense at the net was the difference in the match. The Cougars scored 18 points on blocks compared to four for Columbia River.

“They definitely outblocked us,” Columbia River coach Moe Melhart said. “Holy Names is a good team. They were just a little bit more polished than us.”

Columbia River will play No. 1 ranked Southridge of Kennewick in the 3rd/4th place match later this evening. Southridge suffered its first loss of the year in the semifinals Saturday against Mercer Island.

“I’m proud of my kids because they never gave up,” Melhart said. “Getting here was our goal, and everything else is just icing.”

For drama and tension River’s first-day matches took the cake. Surviving two five-set thrillers Friday provided memories for a lifetime.

The fortune and poise that propelled River on Friday was lacking in the semifinal loss to Holy Names. Leading 22-16 in the fourth set, River saw Holy Names win seven of eight points to pull even at 23.

River survived a set point, then had one of its own after back-to-back kills by Evi Wilson. But three straight points by Holy Names put the Cougars in the title match.