King’s Way Christian’s volleyball team calls La Center its biggest rival. Since 2014, the two have each won league titles and reached state, but for the past three years, the Wildcats have owned the Knights in the win column.
Until Tuesday, that is.
The Knights topped La Center, 22-25, 25-22, 25-23, 11-25, 15-12 in a battle of 1A Trico League unbeatens, amid Gracie Brown’s match-winning kill that sent the team and fans into a frenzy as if they were crowned league champions.
That’s because, Brown said afterward, they felt like they did as the Knights move to 7-0 on the season and 3-0 in 1A Trico League play.
“We’re really proud,” said Brown, who had 15 digs, seven kills and five total serving aces in the win. “La Center is our biggest competition. We knew we could do it this year. We’re closer as a team, we kept our energy up and came back every time.
“This boosts our confidence, our energy, everything.”
Dana Snider had a team-high 10 kills, setter Abby Cummins had 24 assists, four aces, three blocks and seven digs and libero Tyra Schroeder added 19 kills.
So much can be learned from the Knights’ victory of a team it hadn’t defeated in three years, swept in both meetings in 2017 and features the reigning co-league MVP.
Never a doubt, said Brown a junior, even when all the momentum seemed to be in La Center’s favor after a 25-11 fourth-set victory. She had three consecutive serving aces in the first-to-15 set plus two kills.
Now, the Knights are thinking big picture: state.
“This will take us all the way,” Brown said, “… Now we have the confident to beat any team we come against.”
Tuesday was the first five-set match of 2018 for both teams. Both had similar resumes entering the 1A Trico League showdown of league unbeatens, including knocking off higher-classification teams.
Barely any separation was shown over the first three sets; the largest lead for either team came for King’s Way in the second set, 22-16, before the Wildcats (6-2, 2-1) rallied to pull within two set points.
La Center coach Cymany O’Brien admitted her team didn’t play its best match, but had a number of moments. That came in its dominating fourth-set — 25-11 — the type of play O’Brien expects to see more consistently, she said.
“That was how I expected us to play all night was in that set,” O’Brien said, “and we were so inconsistent.”
But the Knights never wavered once the fifth set began.
Brown’s serving aces gave King’s Way a 6-2 cushion in the fifth set that helped withstand La Center’s powerful rally behind the hard-swinging Laynie Erickson, the reigning league co-MVP.
The senior Central Washington volleyball commit had a match-best 28 kills and added 23 digs. Four kills came in the final set when she cut King’s Way’s lead to 12-10. Tiffany Chandler added 12 kills and 24 digs, Sydney Mairose had nine kills, eight blocks and 17 digs, and setter Amanda Holm had 47 assists and 16 digs.
Already a player whose etched her name in the La Center record books, Erickson also is approaching a milestone unmatched in program history: the first double-double 1,000-member club in kills and digs. After Tuesday, she’s at 960 kills and is on pace to break 1,000 career kills in the coming matches.
KING’S WAY CHRISTIAN 3, LA CENTER 2
22-25, 25-22, 25-23, 11-25, 15-12
Highlights — Laynie Erickson 28 kills, 23 digs, 3 aces, 3 blocks; Sydney Mairose 9 kills, 17 digs, 8 blocks; Tiffany Chandler 12 kills, 23 digs; Amanda Holm 47 assists, 16 digs; Katie Leslie 19 digs.
Highlights — Gracie Brown 7 kills, 15 digs, 5 aces; Abby Cummins 24 assists, 3 blocks, 4 aces, 7 digs; Dana Snider 10 kills, 17 digs, 2 aces; Tyra Schroeder 19 digs; Brooke Mattila 4 kills, 3 blocks; Bridget Young 4 kills, 4 blocks; Katrina Cloyes 2 digs, 1 kill, 1 block; Aly Evanson 2 aces, 7 digs.