ELLENSBURG – Back to back.
Backs never to the wall.
Ridgefield won its second consecutive 2A volleyball state championship on Saturday, beating hometown Ellensburg in the title match at Central Washington University.
The Spudders dominated.
Not just in Saturday’s championship match, which Ridgefield won 25-16, 25-9, 22-25, 25-14.
That victory capped an overpowering season for the Spudders. Ridgefield finished 21-0, only five times having matches last longer than three sets.
“It’s so satisfying,” said senior Delaney Nicoll. “All year long, that was the goal. That’s what we were pushing for. Now that we’re finally here, it feels so good to accomplish that because we worked so hard.”
Nicoll, an Idaho commit, had 25 kills and 16 digs in the championship match. Allie Andrew added 12 kills and five blocks. Emilea Stepaniuk, the libero, had 27 digs.
For Stepaniuk, repeating as state champs was a different type of thrill than last year’s breakthrough.
“We knew it would take a lot of work to get here,” she said. “We were willing to work out butts off, and that’s what we did.”
Ridgefield quickly put its stamp on the first two sets, running away with each. But Ellensburg ignited its loud home crowd by surging in the third set.
But Ridgefield cut off that Ellensburg energy with a 9-2 run in the fourth set, opening a 14-7 lead.
“We knew they were going to have a big crowd,” Nicoll said. “Going into the game, we told ourselves that we need to create our own energy and be our own student section.”
“One of our parents told us we needed to absorb the crowd’s energy as our own,” junior setter Kohana Fukuchi added.
This marks the sixth volleyball state championship for Ridgefield, which won four 1A titles between 1975 and 1990.
Earlier Saturday, Ridgefield took charge quickly in its four-set semifinal win over Washington (20-2). The Spudders dominated the first two sets, winning 25-12 and 25-17.
Washington regained momentum, taking the third set 25-17 and opening a 6-2 lead in the fourth. But Ridgefield rediscovered its stride, winning the fourth set 25-20.
Nicoll had 25 kills, while sophomores Morgan Harter (28 assists) and Emily Vossenkuhl (six kills, four blocks) also stepped up for the Spudders.
Columbia River places seventh
Once the first round was done, Columbia River was unbeatable.
The Chieftains (16-5) placed seventh by winning two matches on Saturday. River opened the day with a sweep of North Kitsap (25-22, 25-18, 25-23), then beat Selah in four sets (25-22, 25-19, 20-25, 25-15).
After a first-round loss to White River, Columbia River blazed through the consolation bracket to go 3-1 in the 2A tournament.
“I’m really proud of the way we picked it up,” outside hitter Rylie Reeves said. “Even though we were really heartbroken about our first loss, we put things into perspective and looked toward the bigger picture of placing.”
Maddie Sheron had 20 kills over Saturday’s two matches. Fellow junior Alison Dreves had 18 kills and 25 digs.
While the Chieftains graduate five seniors, seven players who saw significant action at state are slated to return.
“We have some strong players coming in, but I think we’re definitely going to miss our seniors,” junior Alison Dreves said. “We’re going to have to try to rebuild where they’re leaving some spots.”
2A State Volleyball Tournament
RIDGEFIELD 3, ELLENSBURG 1
25-16, 25-9, 22-25, 25-14
Highlights – Delaney Nicoll 25 kills, 16 digs; Allie Andrew 12 kills, 5 blocks; Emily Vossenkuhl 7 kills, 5 blocks; Emilea Stepaniuk 27 digs.
RIDGEFIELD 3, WASHINGTON 1
25-12, 25-17, 17-25, 25-20
Highlights – Delaney Nicoll 25 kills, 6 digs, 2 blocks, 1 ace; Allie Andrew 8 kills, 5 blocks, 1 dig, 1 ace; Emilea Stepaniuk 17 digs; Kohana Fukuchi 16 assists, 3 digs; Emily Borgstedt 5 kills, 7 blocks; Morgan Harter 28 assists, 2 blocks; Emily Vossenkuhl 6 kills, 4 blocks.
COLUMBIA RIVER 3, NORTH KITSAP 0
25-22, 25-18, 25-23
Highlights – Isabella Ness 5 kills, 2 blocks; Rylie Reeves 3 aces, 4 kills, 23 digs; Caroline Hansen 14 assists, 1 block; Sydney Waite 16 digs; Maddie Sheron 12 kills, 5 digs; Jayden Foster 5 kills; Riley Zanas 2 aces, 11 assists, 8 digs; Alison Dreves 2 aces, 6 kills, 12 digs; Ashlyn Raynor 2 ace; Emma Adams 1 ace, 22 digs.
COLUMBIA RIVER 3, SELAH 1
25-22, 25-19, 20-25, 25-15
Highlights – Isabella Ness 2 kills, 3 blocks, 1 dig; Caroline Hansen 17 assists, 1 block, 3 digs; Sydney Waite 7 digs; Maddie Sheron 8 kills, 3 digs; Jayden Foster 6 kills, 2 blocks, 4 digs; Riley Zanas 3 aces, 20 assists, 15 digs; Alison Dreves 12 kills, 13 digs; Ashlyn Raynor 1 ace, 4 digs; Emma Adams 3 aces, 37 digs.