King’s loses in state semifinals, rebounds to take third place | Volleyball

Knights led by seniors Kirton and McCutchen
By David Pan | Nov 15, 2018
Courtesy of: Bart Foley King’s took third place at the 1A state volleyball championships. The Knights lost 3-2 to Charles Wright in the semifinals but then rebounded to defeat Granger 3-0 Saturday, Nov. 10, at the Yakima Valley SunDome.

King’s should eventually feel a little better about its third place finish at the 1A volleyball tournament.

But the disappointment at not being able to defend their state championship is going to take a little while for the Knights to get over.

“I think in time they will feel OK about it,” King’s coach Bart Foley said of the team’s third-place finish. “But it’s a funny thing when you set your objectives pretty high … It feels like a disappointment. They’re all processing it right now. It was hard in the moment.”

The Knights (20-2) opened tournament play with a 25-20, 25-20, 18-25, 25-20 victory over Lakeside (Nine Mile) and then swept La Salle 25-21, 25-18, 25-16 Friday, Nov. 9, at the Yakima Valley SunDome.

King’s faced eventual state runner-up Charles Wright and lost 25-22, 13-25, 21-25, 26-24, 15-13 in the semifinals on Saturday, Nov. 10. The Tarriers were led by 6-foot-1 senior Abbie Jackson, who is headed to the University of Houston.

In the end, Jackson’s offensive prowess lifted Charles Wright to the victory.

“She was the best player in the tournament,” Foley said. “She’s quite a dynamic hitter. She was a target for them whenever she was on the court. They set her up when they needed a play.”

The Tarriers made an adjustment in the fourth set after dropping sets two and three.

“They moved her defensively into the middle,” Foley said.

King’s offensive focus shifted to its outside hitters and Foley speculated that they started to tire a little bit.

“We may have had a little fatigue late in the match,” Foley said.

Whatever the reason, King’s offense wasn’t as effective in the final two sets, which they lost.

Lynden Christian, who King’s defeated in the district title match, beat Charles Wright 25-17, 25-11, 25-12 to claim its third state championship in school history.

Following the heartbreaking loss, Foley and his coaching staff challenged the players to respond. The Knights, Foley said, have never lost back-to-back matches at the state tournament. That streak remained intact as King’s defeated Granger 22-25, 25-19, 25-16, 25-22 to take third place.

“It was a different kind of challenge,” Foley said. “It was a character match and the girls were reeling. There was visible emotion in the girls … We were significantly disappointed to be playing in that match. We struggled a little bit to find the will. We lost that first set. The girls dug a little deeper.

“The girls ended up finding their way. Third place is a great achievement. We’re proud ultimately.”

Foley was able to send in some of bench players in the fourth set to gain valuable state tournament experience.

Two players who left quite an impression on Foley and their teammates were senior co-captains Dominique Kirton and Baily McCutchen.

Heading into the state tournament, the expectation was that King’s key players would have to play their best when their best was needed.

“They lived up to that legacy,” Foley said. “It’s going to be hard to replace those girls. They meant a lot to the team and to the program as a whole.”

The first-year King’s coach added that junior Ava Mason was in his view the best setter in the state.

Junior Alli Hansen, who returned late in the season from a back injury, had a strong performance at the tournament. Sophomore Noelle Alberda was one of the Knights’ most effective hitters.

“It’s an exciting future,” Foley said.

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