Before she embarks on the next stage of her volleyball career, Delaney Nicoll wanted to savor one more go around with Ridgefield.
One more season of leading the Spudders to the 2A state championship.
One more season of dominating the 2A Greater St. Helens League, which honored Nicoll as MVP for the second straight year.
And one more season of bringing pride to her community, the same one that raised her parents.
To hear Nicoll say it, winning her first state title as a junior was a shock.
But ending her high school career with a second championship was extra special.
“This is one of the closest teams I’ve ever had,” Nicoll said. “I’ve known a lot of these girls forever. A lot of them are family friends. It goes back to the roots in Ridgefield that we all have.”
This season, the Spudders went 21-0 with only one match going the maximum five sets. Nicoll routinely took over those matches, with the 6-foot-1 outside hitter leading the 2A GSHL in kills by a large margin.
For her accomplishments, Nicoll is The Columbian’s All-Region player of the year for a second consecutive season.
Nicoll’s volleyball days aren’t over. She has committed to play for the University of Idaho.
But while she’ll take her talents to another state, Nicoll’s roots are Ridgefield, through and through.
“I wanted a school that resembled Ridgefield because I like the small community feeling,” Nicoll said. “Moscow (Idaho) is a small college town. I got the feeling that it would be similar to Ridgefield.”
Nicoll is the third generation of her family to attend Ridgefield High. Her mother, Adrienne, also played volleyball for the Spudders while her father, Steve, is the public address announcer at Ridgefield home matches.
As captain for a second straight year, Nicoll wanted to ensure that Ridgefield’s close community bonds extended to the volleyball team.
“We all have immense pride in being a Spudder,” she said. “Even before I went to high school, I knew what it meant to be part of the community.”
Despite returning most key players, Nicoll knew winning a second state championship would not be easy. The Spudders were now a target for teams across the state.
Nicoll credits coach Sabrina Dobbs with helping the team keep the same hunger it used to chase their previous championship.
“We weren’t going to defend anything,” Nicoll said. “We were going to pursue a new goal.”
So, pursue they did. After being pushed to five sets in a season-opening match by 4A Skyview, the Spudders swept 14 of their next 15 matches.
At the state tournament, Ridgefield turned back tough challenges from No. 4-ranked Lynden, No. 3 Washington and hometown Ellensburg, which the Spudders defeated 3-1 in the championship match.
Another year’s goal had been accomplished.
Another year’s worth of hard work had paid off.
“After you accomplish a goal like winning a state championship, you look back and ask ‘what could be cooler?'” Nicoll said. “Well, winning it twice.
“Everyone on the team deserves it because we worked so hard.”
REST OF FIRST TEAM
Allie Andrew, Ridgefield
The 6-foot-4 junior was a powerhouse as a blocker and hitter, including 18 kills in a quarterfinal win over Lynden.
Emma Villaluz, Camas
The 4A GSHL co-MVP led Camas to 7th in state. The senior outside hitter made impact despite standing just 5-foot-5.
Logann Golden, Castle Rock
The senior Trico League MVP starred at three positions — hitter, blocker and defensive specialist.
Emma Adams, Columbia River
The junior libero surpassed 1,000 career digs in helping the Chieftains place seventh in state.
Tyra Schaub, Skyview
Just a sophomore, the outside hitter was 4A GSHL co-MVP. Led Skyview to share of league title and state berth.
Sophia Carter, Prairie
A Western Washington signee, the senior middle hitter was 3A GSHL co-MVP.
Jaydia Martin, Hudson’s Bay
Both a setter and outside hitter, the multi-sport athletes earned 3A GSHL co-MVP honors.
Allie Gaston, Kelso
Senior leader was key to her team’s run to third place at the 3A state tournament.
Bella Hadaller, Kelso
Sophomore outside hitter was among the 3A GSHL leaders in kills.
Emma Swett, Woodland
Junior led her team in kills, aces and blocks while able to handle setting duties on occasion.
Emilea Stepaniuk, Ridgefield
Junior libero was key to Spudders run at state. She had 64 digs over four state matches, including 27 in the championship.