YAKIMA — Three times this season, the Camas volleyball team has faced Puyallup, as close to the gold standard in Class 4A as there is statewide.
Though the Papermakers might not be on the level of the undefeated and No. 1-ranked Vikings, they’re getting closer.
Friday saw Camas have its best showing yet against Puyallup in the quarterfinals of the Class 4A state tournament at the Yakima Valley SunDome.
Though the Papermakers lost 3-0, they hung close in each set (25-21, 25-18, 25-18). Each set, Puyallup got separation near the end.
“Every time we played them we got better and better,” Camas coach Michelle Ford said. “I’m proud of the hard work.”
It’s natural that Camas would have a growth curve this season. The Papermakers graduated five key seniors from last year’s team, which finished fifth at state.
Now a young team with just two seniors is poised to match last year’s standard. No. 9-seed Camas (18-4) is still alive for a trophy and will play in the fifth-place semifinal Saturday morning against No. 5 Curtis.
“What this has taught us is that we can come so far as a team, especially over the course on one season,” said junior libero Halle Reiter. “From the first tournament to now, we’ve grown so much.”
Reiter was the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League co-MVP, helping the Papermakers go unbeaten in league play. She and sophomore Kendall Mairs, who had 16 kills against Puyallup, are part of the team’s young nucleus that continues to improve.
“We’ve had some position changes and people stepping up when we need them,” Mairs said. “We’ve gotten better each time. We’ve found other teams’ weaknesses and what we need to change.”
According to Ford, a big key to that improvement is playing teams like Puyallup – whether at the state tournament, last weekend’s bi-district semifinals or an early-season tournament when Camas saw the Vikings (23-0) for the first time.
And what better chance than state to get first-hand experience against the top competition. That’s why Ford brought a couple of extra players not on the roster to Yakima for the chance to learn.
“This is a great opportunity to see some really good teams that are all fighting for the same thing,” Ford said. “It’s good to show the talent that there is in the state of Washington. It shows what we have to work on starting in August, especially how every time we get on that floor, whether it’s practice or a game, we prepare ourselves for this.”
Camas got off to a hot start in its first-round match, sweeping West Valley-Yakima 25-16, 25-23 and 25-11. Mairs had 10 kills and Ella Thompson added eight kills.
Kelso places seventh in 3A
Class 3A GSHL runner-up Kelso earned the second-best state finish in program history, placing seventh in the 3A tournament.
The Lassies beat Lynnwood 3-0 then topped Lake Washington 3-1 in the trophy round.
No. 15-seed Kelso went 4-1 in the tournament, including 3-0 in loser-out matches. Its only loss was to No. 2 seed Mead in the Round of 16.
Kelso’s trophy is the third in program history and only bested by its third-place finish in 2019.
CAMAS 3, WEST VALLEY-YAKIMA 0
25-16, 25-23, 25-11
Highlights – Kaleah Dewey 1 kill, 8 digs, 2 aces; Sami Tyler 1 kill, 2 digs, 2 blocks, 2 assists; Avery Walunas 5 kills, 1 dig, 4 blocks; Halle Reiter 13 digs, 2 assists; Cami Young 6 kills, 1 dig, 4 blocks; Mia Thorburn 5 digs, 21 assists; Kelli Kraft 1 kill, 1 dig, 2 blocks, 1 assist; Kendall Mairs 10 kills, 5 digs, 3 blocks, 2 aces, 3 assists; Ella Thompson 8 kills, 1 block, 1 ace.
PUYALLUP 3, CAMAS 0
25-21, 25-18, 25-18
Highlights – Kaleah Dewey 1 dig; Brielle Gray 4 digs, 1 ace; Maggie Schostak 2 kills, 2 blocks; Sami Tyler 2 kills, 2 blocks; Avery Walunas 1 kill, 1 dig, 1 block; Halle Reiter 12 digs, 3 assists; Cami Young 4 kills, 2 blocks, 2 assists; Mia Thorburn 8 digs, 18 assists; Kelli Kraft 1 kill, 1 block; Kendall Mairs; 16 kills, 3 digs, 3 blocks, 4 assists; Ella Thompson 2 kills, 1 dig, 3 blocks.