Her team was already up two sets to none, but Tumwater High School senior libero Cristina Hegarty felt a need to shake things up.
“We weren’t playing the way we know we can play,” she said.
With the Thunderbirds leading Woodland in the Class 2A State volleyball championship match at St. Martin’s University on Saturday, Hegarty heard the theme song from her favorite movie, “Footloose,” blast over the public address system at Marcus Pavilion.
She pantomimed a few licks of air guitar, then slid on her knees toward the T-Bird bench.
“Of course they had to play ‘Footloose,” said Tumwater coach Tana Otton. “If they play that how can you not dance?”
At the time she stood up and chided Hegarty, but 20 minutes later when the T-Birds had wrapped up a 25-22, 25-18, 25-18 sweep of the Beavers for their second 2A state title in three years, all was forgiven.
“It’s a feeling I never thought I would have,” said Hegarty, who was a member of the T-Birds’ 2014 title team but not a major factor. “It’s amazing.”
Otton, who claimed a state title in the same year her father, legendary football coach Sid, is also hunting for a title in his final season, interrupted a conversation with reporters to hug her father.
“It’s always such a T-Bird family,” she said. “My dad’s been with me every step of the way. In 1998, my very first year of coaching, I won a state title at Meridian (in Bellingham) and he asked me ‘What took you so long?’”
This year’s championship looked like it might be a tough one to claim, though top-ranked Tumwater (22-0) defeated Archbishop Murphy earlier Saturday in straight sets in what Otton said was the most satisfying win of the season, and didn’t lose a set in any of its four state matches.
The Beavers (16-6), with their big three hitters — Kayla Fredricks, Taylor Foster and Vanessa Franke — playing well, surged out to as much as a 19-12 lead in the first set. Woodland was on a mission, trying to win a championship in the final game of coach Jeff Nesbitt’s 31-year career.
Otton could see her team was a little too hyped and called a timeout.
“We knew the nerves were there. Not in a way of being nervous, but wanting to do too much. We talked to them about starting to climb back up,” she said.
Gonzaga commit Kennedy Croft served as the T-Birds scored eight consecutive points to take the lead and were never seriously threatened after that.
With seven seniors suiting up for the last time, it was an emotional night for Tumwater. Setter Maddy Pilon, who was called up from JV late in the 2014 season and did play a significant role in that year’s sweep of North Kitsap for the title, saw this year’s crown as even more satisfying.
“The difference is how we came together. It was a lot of fun, but we were also unified the entire season, we had no conflicts, not even small ones,” she said.
Croft led Tumwater with 19 kills and also had 12 digs and three aces. Hegarty led in digs with 19 and also had a pair of aces. Pilon contributed 41 assists and had eight digs. Sophomore Savannah Sleasman had 10 kills.
Two other South Sound teams received trophies.
Fife (18-6) was swept by North Kitsap and accepted the eight place trophy while White River (20-3), which had played an impressive match against a tough Ridgefield squad on Friday night to reach the semi-finals, struggled Saturday and took fourth after losing to both Woodland and Archbishop Murphy in straight sets.
Capital’s quest for a third championship appearance in three years took a jarring detour in the semifinals against Lakeside. The Lions got 15 kills from Kallin Spiller in a 25-11, 25-11, 25-10 victory, the most lopsided of the entire tournament.
Capital struggled to develop an attack beyond 6-foot-1 senior Hali Ehresmann, who had seven of the Cougars’ 13 kills in the match. Maia Nichols added two kills.
In its ensuing match against Mercer Island for third and fourth place, Capital fell 25-13, 25-16, 25-20. Nichols warmed up at the net and posted a team-high 12 kills with 16 digs, Ehresmann had seven kills, three blocks and five digs, Tia Grow had 23 assists and Elise Meath cobbled 11 digs.
Timberline was looking to improve on the program’s highest state finish (seventh in 2014) but could not a complete a comeback against Bellevue which would have earned it fifth or sixth. The Blazers forced a fifth set by winning 25-22 in the fourth but ran out of steam and fell 15-7 in the decisive fifth. New Mexico State-bound senior Julianna Salanoa went out in style with 21 kills, 16 digs and two aces. Her heir apparent at the net, junior Kasey Louis, boomed 18 kills, and senior Natalie Stark had 24 assists.
North Thurston fell one victory short of reaching the match for seventh and eighth place, losing to Ferndale 25-19, 25-17, 25-10 in the consolation bracket. The Rams placed seventh in 2015.
Ben Zimmerman contributed to this report.