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Prairie volleyball learns it’s fun to be No. 1, tops Mountain View

Falcons dispatch of Thunder in league tiebreaker

By , Columbian Staff Writer
5 Photos
Prairie celebrates their win over Mountain View following a match at Fort Vancouver High School on Wednesday night. Prairie won the top seed in this week’s bi-district tournament.
Prairie celebrates their win over Mountain View following a match at Fort Vancouver High School on Wednesday night. Prairie won the top seed in this week’s bi-district tournament. Nathan Howard/The Columbian Photo Gallery

Prairie knew their opponent, was plenty familiar with the stakes, but on Wednesday evening, was not one bit fazed.

Credit that, in part, to head coach Jen Palmer’s message before the game.

“She walked into the locker room and said, ‘my number one goal for you guys is to have fun,’ ” senior Lainne Wilkins said. “We agreed.”

The Falcons beat Mountain View in three sets — 25-21, 25-18 and 25-18 — to win the 3A Greater St. Helens League tiebreaker on Wednesday at Fort Vancouver High School. Though it didn’t decide the league title, since the two teams each officially earned a share of it, the win earned Prairie a first-round bye and home-court advantage to start the bi-district tournament, which starts Saturday.

Katie Vroman logged 17 kills, 13 dig, two blocks, Molly Packer added 26 digs and three kills and Wilkins had 11 digs and 32 assists to lead the Falcons. Grace Garmire led Mountain View with 10 kills, four digs and a blog and Keiana Bonawitz added 17 assists and 12 digs.

17 Photos
Mountain View's Josie Davis (left) reacts to misreading a ball that she let land in bounds during a match against Prairie at Fort Vancouver High School on Wednesday night, Oct. 31, 2018.
Prairie vs. Mountain View Volleyball Photo Gallery

Prairie heads to state as the No. 1 seed out of the 3A GSHL for the third consecutive year after winning the league outright each of the last two. But Prairie and Mountain View each entered Wednesday’s playoff 9-1 with the one league loss occurring against each other.

That provided extra fuel for the Falcons, who beat the Thunder 3-1 early in league play only to be swept by them three weeks later. They took to the tape and studied film of the first two matches to make sure they knew everything about their opponent.

But most of all, the Falcons knew they couldn’t afford to get rattled. And in the end, they didn’t.

“That was the weird thing, we didn’t feel tense at all event though it was a playoff game,” senior Katie Vroman said.

“They weren’t going to just give it to us. We came out and got it back.”

Prairie opened the second set hot and build a 13-4 lead. The momentum quickly evaporated, as Mountain View mounted a comeback, capped by a Grace Garmire kill that helped the Thunder reclaim the lead at 17-16, resulting in a Prairie timeout.

In the huddle, Wilkins said Palmer told the team to “right here, flip the switch. It’s time.” The girls followed suit. They proceeded to score nine consecutive points out of the timeout to win the set. Each Thunder clap-back was met with burst of energy, which helped the Falcons stay ahead.

“If we get a perfect pass, perfect set, perfect kill, we all can get extremely loud, that’s how we take it away from them,” Molly Packer said.

With the win, Prairie skips to the second round of state, where it will play the Winn of Spanaway Lake and Stadium or Peninsula, who play Thursday. Mountain View travels to Tacoma’s Stadium High School, where it will face the winner of Bonney Lake and Gig Harbor at noon. After hearing Palmer’s pregame message, the Falcons felt they played relaxed and, as their coach suggested, had fun.

“Whenever we have fun we play so much better,” senior Molly Packer said. “Whenever we have energy, we talk, communicate we play Prairie volleyball.”

Columbian Staff Writer