Friday, June 18, 2021
June 18, 2021

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After five-set thriller, King’s Way Christian volleyball team stays perfect

Knights rally back to beat La Center

By , Columbian staff writer

LA CENTER — The special season for King’s Way Christian volleyball team continues.

Its undefeated season that includes its first league crown since 2014 continues after Wednesday’s five-set district semifinal win over league-rival La Center to advance to Saturday’s 1A district championship match. The set scores were 14-25, 25-23, 25-21, 20-25, 15-9.

With two state bids out of District IV, Wednesday’s matches tournament-wide didn’t seal any state berths. For King’s Way, that can come Saturday when it plays another league rival — reigning district champion Castle Rock — for the 1A district title at noon Saturday in Castle Rock.

A win Saturday sends the Knights back to state where it last won a trophy during its last league-title season in 2014.

For Dana Snider, one of two seniors, it’s been a stepping stone throughout her career getting to this point — winning a league title, and playing for a district title.

“It’s been awesome,” said Snider, who had a match-high 25 kills and 21 digs against La Center. “For my senior year to be able to do it with this team and be league champs and go into the district championship is an awesome feeling. I can’t wait to see what this team does.”

The determination King’s Way has shown all season showed up Wednesday, too, fending off a La Center squad that the Knights swept in both their regular-season meetings as it aims for a deep postseason run.

“We have so much heart,” said junior setter Abby Cummins, who had 45 assists and 10 kills. “We all come together and want the same thing.”

For La Center, a program that’s played in the district championship the past three years, it needs to win twice Saturday to earn the second and final state bid starting at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Win, and it plays for the second and final state bid at 3 p.m. Saturday, also at Castle Rock.

Despite the loss, La Center coach Cymany O’Brien saw her team play its best volleyball of the season Wednesday and at the right time. First, the momentum from its first-round loser-out match by sweeping Montesano, 32-30, 25-13, 28-26, paved the way for a five-set thriller against the Knights.

In fact, La Center, which finished third in the Trico League behind King’s Way and Castle Rock, did what only three teams have done against King’s Way and that’s take a set off the Knights. The Knights swept both regular-season meetings against La Center, but Wednesday, was a different take as three of the five sets were separated by two points most of the way.

O’Brien hopes that momentum carries over into Saturday.

“This shows how good they are,” she said of her team. “They were trusting each other tonight and working really hard on defense. … They know they can compete with the best.”

Trailing two sets to one, La Center forced a first-to-15 tiebreaker after ending the match on a 6-1 run, but King’s Way never relinquished the lead in the fifth set after jumping out to a 4-0 lead. La Center got as close as 11-9 on a kill by Tiffany Chandler, who had 21 kills in both matches Wednesday to lead the Wildcats. Mia Edwards added 25 assists, and Grace Powell and Amie Russell combined for nine blocks.

Brooke Mattila added 13 kills for King’s Way and Belen Kingsella and Aly Evanson combined for 33 digs.