Wolverines Take Second in Kingco Tourney
#1 Ranked Islanders Have Just Enough to Prevail in Championship
The Bellevue Wolverines took on their chief rival, Mercer Island, for the KINGCO championship on Saturday night at BHS. The winner goes into the district playoffs next Thursday as the number one seed and a first round bye. The loser becomes the number two seed.
Mercer Island has had our number this year. Of course, they are the number one team in the state so that is to be expected. Regardless, Bellevue was not intimidated. Callie Weber put away a kill to make it 1-1. A Holly Huard kill tied the match at 4. MI took a 3 point lead before Weber went on a 3 kill streak and the game was knotted at 8. Jenna Kennan dug a big spike from Kelly Behrbaum that made it over the net and MI deposited the ball into the net for the point and the 9-8 lead. Another Weber kill made it 10-9. BHS went on a little run and after a Holly Huard spike made it 13-10, MI called time out. Huard got kills at 15-11 and again at 16-12. An Ally Witham ace made it 17-12 and Bellevue looked to be on their way. However, the Islanders scraped back to 17-15 prompting a Coach Kalingo time out. Kennan got the next one to go down from the middle to make it 18-15. Still up 18-17 Bellevue had several chances to put the point away. Somehow MI got the ball up three times with some amazing saves. Bellevue followed suit with some scrappy play of their own as Khuu, Sophia Knapp, and Emily Burns patrolled the back row. The rally seemed to last for minutes before KINGCO player of the year, Natalie Robinson put it away and it was tied at 18-18. That point swung the momentum firmly in the Islander court and Robinson took over. Behind her serving, setting ,and hitting, MI vaulted to a 18-22 lead. A Weber kill stopped the bleeding but Behrbaum put the game away as MI ended on a 10-1 run to steal game 1, 19-25.
Needing game 2 to make this a contest, BHS started with an emphatic Weber kill to go up 1-0. Bellevue ripped out to a 9-4 lead behind 2 kills each from Witham and Weber. A Huard ace made it 10-4. A Kennan ace made it 12-6. But, MI went on another run to make it 12-11 and a BHS time out. Then the game was back and forth. Naomi Chen-Mallouk got a kill to make it 14-13. Witham got a couple of more kills and BHS maintained a slim lead at 16-15. The game was like a pendulum and after a Huard kill, Weber got another thunder slam to make it 18-17. Robinson got the serve and after a Robinson tip, MI was up 18-20. Needing a side out, Khuu set up Weber who was blocked but Knapp was in the right place to dig it up and the second Weber hit found the deck for a 19-20 score. Witham got a tip for a 20-21 contest. A Chen-Mallouk kill tied the score at 21-21. Bellevue took 4 hits to get it over the next time and it was 21-22. Huard’s spike was blocked and BHS was down 21-23. After a Wolverine time out, Witham got a much needed kill for 22-23. Islander junior hitter, Adara Hamilton, made a critical cross-court tip and on the next point Hamilton got the game winner, 22-25.
After jumping out to leads of 5 and 6 points in the first 2 games only to have MI roar back and snatch the games late, BHS needed to respond in game 3 if this match was going to continue. Weber chased a ball down to the back wall with great hustle and Burns was able to get it back over the net and BHS ended up with the point to take an early 3-2 lead. But, MI went on a run that Witham ended with a kill but BHS was down 4-8. After a 5 point service run by Islander libero, Tess Hendelman, BHS took a much needed time out down 4-13. But, BHS didn’t have anything left in the tank and MI took a commanding 7-19 lead. The Wolverines dug deep and started getting points back but the lead was just too much to overcome and MI took game three, 13-25, and the match 3-0.
The Wolverines proved they can compete with the best team in the state and a couple bounces of the ball in games one and two and the outcome could have been different. That said, Mercer Island earned this match behind experience and execution late in the games. BHS gave great effort and look forward to districts next week and a chance to go to state. Bellevue takes on Ingraham on Thursday at 5:30 pm at Lakeside High School. That is a loser out game. Should BHS move on, they will play Holy Names after the first game. We could really use your support. Please come to Lakeside Thursday to cheer on the team.
Varsity Stats Leaders, Mercer Island (Kingco)
Aces: Huard 1, Witham 1
Kills: Weber 14, Witham 8, Huard 8,
Digs: Knapp 15, Weber 14, Huard 7, Witham 7
Blocks: Huard 1
Assists: Khuu 32
Kingco Playoffs Varsity vs. Redmond