TUMWATER — The Capital Cougars worked their way through an intense day of volleyball Saturday at Black Hills High School, and at the end, they had something to show for it: a 2A District IV championship trophy.
The Cougars had game point in sight at 24-23 in the first game of the championship match before losing, 27-25, to a tenacious Ridgefield team. Capital then swept through the next three games by scores of 25-22, 25-9 and 25-17 to earn the district title and a third straight state berth.
“They’re just a good group,” Capital coach Natalie Rhodes said of her team. “They go out and put it all out there on the court.”
Ridgefield went on a 10-5 run in the second game to pull into a tie at 17-17 before a late 7-1 run pushed the Cougars ahead. In the third game, Capital scored the last 13 points to carry the Cougars in the deciding game.
Any runs the Spudders made were more often than not powered by senior Shannon Boyle and her high-velocity kills. The orange-clad Ridgefield fans could be heard yelling “The Hammer” in anticipation of another Boyle bomb.
Boyle, who is bound for Sacramento State University, had 20 kills, but she’s the total package, with an array of soft sets and athletic saves.
Ridgefield, the Greater St. Helens League champion, heads to state as the No. 2 District IV seed. After the final match, Boyle was conceding nothing.
“I feel like we could have beaten them if we were all on our game,” she said.
For Capital, outside hitter Rachel Erickson, a 5-foot-9 junior wearing the same No. 6 on her jersey as Boyle, packs a similar punch (18 kills), but she had more help.
Left-hander Paige Schieferstein (10 kills, 17 digs, 3 blocks) was especially adept at well-placed tips that found the floor on the Spudders’ side. Kaysee Wohl had 12 kills and three blocks. Stephanie Sweet, a sophomore, had five kills in the deciding fourth game.
Libero Marissa Ottesen kept rallies alive with 45 digs in the championship match, and setter Sam Yorke contributed 54 assists.
Erickson, Schieferstein, Wohl, Ottesen and Yorke are juniors who have played in big games together at district and state since they were freshmen, Rhodes said, along with senior Drew Rothengass, who contributed important minutes Saturday.
The Cougars, champions of the 2A Evergreen Conference, are now 14-1 for the season. They will need to stay focused to continue the run at next weekend’s state tournament at Pierce College, Rhodes said.
“We have to go in with the mentality that nothing hits the floor, stay aggressive, and keep in the fight. Every team’s going to be good now,” Rhodes said.
Tumwater earns No. 3 seed: The Tumwater Thunderbirds roared back from a five-set loss to Ridgefield in the morning to win out, defeating first R.A. Long, then Centralia in straight sets (25-20, 25-14, 25-11) to claim the No. 3 seed to the state Class 2A tournament.
Centralia, which lost to eventual district champion Capital earlier in the day, eliminated Black Hills to earn the shot at Tumwater for the final state berth.