YAKIMA – As the four seniors on the Prairie volleyball team gathered after their final high school match, a question was posed – What would they remember most about the Class 3A state tournament?
“This trophy right here,” said senior Ali Millspaugh, raising the fifth-place hardware.
The Falcons’ fifth-place finish on Saturday is a recent high-water mark for a program with a rich statewide pedigree.
Prairie won both its matches on Saturday at the Yakima Valley SunDome to earn its first state trophy since placing sixth in 2018. It equals the Falcons’ best finish since 2017, which stands as the program’s best since winning the state championship in 2012. It’s also the 13th state trophy in program history.
Prairie lost a close quarterfinal match to top-seeded North Thurston on Friday. While that could have left a team-deflated, No. 8-seed Prairie maintained that strong play Saturday in 3-0 wins over No. 12 Auburn Riverside and No. 10 Mt. Spokane.
Millspaugh and fellow seniors Diamond Doutrive, Emelyn Cecil and Madelyn Moore made sure Prairie recalibrated its aim toward the next-highest possible finish.
“We knew we could come back and win this fifth-place trophy,” said Doutrive.
Prairie overcame a 10-point deficit to win a set in the quarterfinals. A comeback also set the tone in the fifth-place match against Mt. Spokane as the Falcons rallied from 18-13 down to win 25-22.
“I think it was not giving up and not letting little mistakes get to us,” Millspaugh said. “Big leads didn’t get to us because we came back.”
Prairie (21-4) won the second set 25-19, then closed the match 28-26 in the third set where each team had two chances to win the set.
Prairie’s day began with a sweep of Auburn Riverside. After winning the first two sets 25-18 and 25-19, the Falcons turned back the Ravens’ last-gasp rally to win third set 25-23 after leading 23-17.