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Tuesday, February 27, 2024
Feb. 27, 2024

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Columbia River volleyball rolls to third straight 2A state title

Dreves ends career on perfect note against rival Ridgefield in final

By , Columbian Sports Editor
Published:
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Columbia River's Lauren Dreves holds the Class 2A volleyball state championship trophy after the title match against Ridgefield on Saturday, Nov, 11, 2023 in Yakima.
Columbia River's Lauren Dreves holds the Class 2A volleyball state championship trophy after the title match against Ridgefield on Saturday, Nov, 11, 2023 in Yakima. (Micah Rice/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

YAKIMA – A perfect ending to a near-perfect season.

One constant through Columbia River volleyball’s recent run of Class 2A state championships has been Lauren Dreves.

The precocious sophomore on the 2021 championship team grew into the engine that fired River’s repeat title run last year.

So there was no doubt who would seal Columbia River’s third straight championship Saturday at the Yakima Valley SunDome.

Coach Breanne Smedley made sure of that. She told setter Macey McCoy to target Dreves’ No. 5 on the final point of a three-set sweep of Ridgefield in Saturday’s title match.

“I said to Macey, go to Five,” Smedley said. “Let her finish this.”

And with her final kill, the Auburn-bound senior finished one of the most dominant seasons in Washington high school volleyball history.

The Rapids not only won all 24 matches this season, they lost just one set.

They were hardly tested over two days at the annual gathering of the state’s best. That was especially true in the final against their 2A Greater St. Helens League rival who had just reached its fifth consecutive title match.

Columbia River took the first set 25-14, then got even stingier. The Rapids won the second set 25-8 and the third set 25-7 against a Spudders team that took the lone set off River this season in last weekend’s district title match.

Not once in the tournament did Columbia River look any less than the most dominant team in the state, perhaps in any classification. The Rapids became the first team Class 2A or larger to win three consecutive state titles since Bellarmine Prep in 2012-14.

“It’s just unbelievable,” Dreves said. “This team worked so hard.  We had such a big target on our back. … But we just focused on each other and got it done.”

The Rapids were never rattled during two wins Friday or a semifinal sweep against Burlington-Edison when they led 14-0 in the first set.

Smedley has methodically built her program into a powerhouse, incorporating exercises to strengthen the team’s mental toughness as well as its physical prowess.

“All of that groundwork that was laid came at that perfect time,” Smedley said. “This is the highest stakes. This is the biggest stage. So that’s the true test of their mental toughness and of these skills that they’ve learned, can they use them and lean on them in the biggest moments. To see them not only lean on them but roll through is amazing.”

Though Dreves is the team’s star, she is among five seniors who have reached uncharted heights in the program’s history. Ellie Ogee, Evelyn Wenger, Logan DeJong and McCoy also ended their high school careers at the summit on Saturday.

“I’ve played with these seniors for so long,” Dreves said. “This is just the best ending I could ever have.”

Not to be overlooked was a resilient Ridgefield team.

For the third straight match the Spudders lost the first set in the semifinals against Lynden. But Ridgefield turned the tide and won in four sets (23-25, 25-20, 25-16, 25-20).

One day after tallying 47 kills in a five-set quarterfinal win, Stanford-bound senior Lizzy Andrew had 23 kills against Lynden, which had only lost once this season on Sept. 16 against Class 4A Curtis.

Ridgefield danced during warmups before the championship match. It was part of the team’s focus of embracing every moment as the season wound down.

“All the seniors, there’s seven of us this year, we’re all really sad it’s our last game,” Andrew said. “So we all really wanted to enjoy it with each other and just have fun. They’re super-amazing people and I really love those girls.”

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