OLYMPIA - Was Olympia High volleyball coach Laurie Creighton confident her team could repeat as champions at Saturday's Capital City Classic volleyball tournament?
Well, not exactly.
“Had you asked me a week ago if I thought this would have been possible, I would have said no,” Creighton said.
This was more than just a case of a coach trying to play down her team’s chances. The Bears were down two starters Saturday, Creighton herself had been out for two weeks, and all were battling a flu bug.
Despite all these potential pitfalls, it was indeed Olympia that was left standing at the end of the 16-team tournament.
Olympia clinched the crown in two games against Selah, 25-21 and 27-25.
It wasn’t easy for the Bears. Selah held a sizeable lead in the early going of the first game, and the Bears overcame game point three times in the decisive Game 2, but Jennifer Liedes clinched the tournament victory for Olympia with a big kill.
“We were confident that we could do well with the players we had because we had some people really step up,” Bears setter and right side blocker Nina Holbrooks said.
Olympia wasn’t the only Puget Sound area team to fare well at Saturday’s tournament.
Black Hills ended up defeating Puyallup to take third place. Capital came up short in the consolation bracket championship against Gig Harbor and finished second in that half of tournament play. Timberline also fell short on the consolation side, falling to Central Kitsap and finishing fourth.
Tumwater had a bit of a tough day, losing to rival Black Hills to begin bracket play and then getting eliminated by Mark Morris in the following match.
“It was a really great day for us,” Black Hills coach Kara Peterson said. “Every single match got a little better. I wasn’t worried about this team. They had some distractions, but they finished the day strong and competed until the very last point.”
Although the Wolves got a boost by defeating their rivals, they missed their shot at redemption against Selah, who knocked Black Hills out of the Class 2A state tournament semifinals last year.
“That was a little disappointing,” Peterson said. “But they came back from that and played well. They didn’t let it get them down.”
Olympia’s fate was helped by the play of Lisa Chulich who recorded eight kills in the championship match.
Liedes, Sarah Stoker and Tiana McIntosh added four kills apiece for Olympia in the final.
Liedes and Annie Sing had the best day, however. Sing was named tournament MVP as she racked up 82 digs on the day. Liedes added 24 kills and eight blocks, which earned her a spot on the all-tournament team.
The teams next return to regular-season play, and the Bears will take some momentum back to the court with them after their triumph.
“This is the first time all year we’ve really played a lot of tough teams,” Stoker said. “We feel pretty good going in to the rest of the season.”