When a team rolls through its first 11 league matches undefeated, the way the Gig Harbor High School volleyball team had, a championship seems inevitable.
That said, the way the Tides clinched a share of the Class 3A South Sound Conference title was impressive Tuesday night, decisively sweeping second-place Capital on the road, 25-16, 25-18, 25-11.
Another road game with the only team that can still tie second-ranked Gig Harbor (12-1, 12-0 in 3A SSC) atop the league — seventh-ranked Timberline (10-2 in league and overall) — is on tap Thursday.
“It’s a good league, different,” Tides coach Melissa Klein said. “There are some strong teams we’ve never seen before and some teams we’re familiar with that are very solid.”
Capital (9-3, 9-3) has been solid, beating Timberline the first time around. But despite playing hard Tuesday night, the Cougars suffered their second sweep at the hands of the Tides this season, in large part because of solid defense by Gig Harbor.
“Our girls worked very hard in practice and carried it over to the game defensively,” Klein said. “Capital was coming at us very hard at the line, but our right side hitters were there.”
Setter Paige Lawson had what Klein called an “amazing” match on defense, collecting 20 digs in addition to 34 assists.
Capital responded to a pair of timeouts called by coach Katie Turcotte with runs of 3-0 and 6-1 in the first set, but the second came too late.
The Cougars tied the second set at 15-15, but a 10-3 run by the Tides closed it out in part thanks to a pair of timely points by junior middle blocker Ceci Rollins.
In the third, Gig Harbor broke a 6-6 tie with a cross-court kill by Hadassah Ward and the Cougars never got close again. The decisive stretch featured nine straight points won while libero Lindsey Skaanes was serving.
“Our team is so deep, it’s hard to pick standouts from any match,” said Klein, who finally pointed to the match-long intensity of hitters Selena Dutton, who finished with 13 kills, nine digs and three aces, and Hannah Yerex, who backed up her six kills with five aces and 14 digs.
Turcotte didn’t see the match as a total loss for Capital.
“We did some good things. Maia Nichols (four kills) had some good swings, Hali Ehresmann (eight kills) got her hand on a lot of balls at the net,” she said. “But we need to receive serve better and we need to serve better. We’ll be working on those things every day.”
Brigitte Neuville led the Cougars’ defense with nine digs.