Underdog Knights win 1A state crown | Volleyball

King’s loses only two sets in entire tournament, claims 1st title since 2009
By David Pan | Nov 16, 2017
Courtesy of: King's High School King’s volleyball players and coaches celebrate winning the 1A state championship Saturday, Nov. 11, at the Yakima Valley SunDome. The Knights defeated Cascade (Leavenworth) 25-12, 23-25, 25-21, 25-10 in the finals.

The odds appeared to be stacked against King’s.

Although they came into the 1A state volleyball tournament with a solid team that was co-Cascade Conference champions with Archbishop Murphy, the Knights didn’t have much postseason roster experience.

“We knew we had some talented players, but we didn’t know what to expect from them,” coach Jeff Fransen said.

Even more daunting for King’s was a challenging draw that eventually included matches with the No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 5 ranked teams in the state at the Yakima Valley SunDome.

The Knights surprised their coach and maybe even themselves by winning all four matches, including a 25-12, 23-25, 25-21, 25-10 decision over Cascade (Leavenworth) in the finals Saturday, Nov. 11, to win the school’s third state title and the first since 2009.

“It was really an amazing experience,” Fransen said. “We couldn’t have faced a more challenging bracket.

“We kept rising to the occasion. We were more focused and more determined and had more drive.”

The Knights were up for the challenge, losing only two sets during the entire tournament.

“We knew it was a steep road, a steep climb,” Fransen said. “Our girls, they worked so hard, even over the last few weeks to get better.”

Sophomore outside hitter Alli Hansen recorded 25 kills and senior setter Tessa Foley dished out 49 assists in the championship match.

After winning the first set, the Knights (19-2) saw Cascade battle back to take the second set. King’s confidence remained high and the Knights won the next two sets.

“There was no letdown. No doubts,” Fransen said. “We just came back in the third set … and then in the fourth set, we were just focusing point by point.”

Fransen added that it was almost a surprise to look up at the scoreboard and see King’s ahead 24-10.

“Wow,” Fransen recalled. “It came from everybody. Our girls were bringing their best.”

The team’s balance offense turned out to be the decisive factor in the Knights’ state tournament run, Fransen said.

Hansen had 20 kills in a 3-0 victory over Lakeside (9 Mile), 18 kills in a 3-0 win over Castle Rock in the quarterfinals and 21 kills in a 3-1 triumph over Lynden Christian in the semifinals. King’s avenged an earlier loss to the Lyncs in the district championship match.

“Tessa Foley, our setter, just did an outstanding job keeping the rhythm going for our hitters,” Fransen said.

Foley averaged 42 assists per match and served with 96 percent accuracy. She also had three aces and three stuff blocks in the finals.

Hansen had a 91 percent accuracy rate on serves and finished with nine aces.

Senior libero Elle Mason served with 93 percent accuracy and recorded eight aces.

“She played her best when her best was needed,” Fransen said of Mason. “She made all kinds of defensive play after defensive play.”

What Fransen is going to remember about this season is the growth of the team from the start of practices to the final point at state.

“They learned as a team. They grew as a team,” Fransen said. “They kind of became a team.”

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