OLYMPIA — It was all set up to be a perfect night back for Tumwater volleyball. After a successful spring season last year, the Thunderbirds were ready and juiced to be playing in a fall game and preparing for a full season, opening the year against 3A powerhouse Capital on the road.
Then, inexplicably during warmups, the fire alarm went off. Tumwater’s players shrugged it off when game officials said they could keep warming up, and for the next 10 minutes the Thunderbirds rattled off practice serves and spikes to the ringing of the alarm.
Right at the end of their warmup, game officials told them to evacuate the gym, and they waited outside in the parking lot along with every spectator until they were cleared to re-enter the gym. When it finally came to game time, the Thunderbirds didn’t miss a beat.
Facing a team that had lost four total games in four years prior, Tumwater thumped the higher classification Cougars in three sets (25-18, 25-22, 25-18).
“It’s always great to win your first game,” co-head coach Jordan Stray said. “To win it in three was really great for our girls and our confidence as we head into a really tough season and a full season which is really exciting. So that was really great for them. This group of girls is fantastic, and they’ve worked really hard in the offseason so they’re ready to do this.”
The Thunderbirds controlled the tempo, pace, and momentum for the entirety of the match, leading from start to finish for nearly the whole game. That happened in large part because of how clean Tumwater played. You could count the Thunderbirds service errors on one hand, a rarity for most high school volleyball squad’s first games of the year.
“We set really high expectations for serving because it starts every point,” co-head coach Jill Giudice said. “It’s really important to us to have 100% serving. They use it as a goal for practice and also every game. That was their goal, 100%, but it was really impressive serving, we use serving to earn points, it's a big deal for us.”
So despite a later start, and some early season jitters that every team experienced, Tumwater came out firing, and it never stopped en route to a dominant sweep over one of the consistently-great teams in the state.
With fans back in the stands, and chants echoing from one side of the court wearing green, to the other side wearing red, Tumwater stepped on the gas all night long.
“It gives them this energy that was missing last year that you really can’t get anywhere else,” Giudice said. “It’s unique to have that. We’re grateful it’s back.”
The Thunderbirds will look to continue all that momentum in another road contest against Olympic High School in Bremerton Wednesday.
Rochester took the road trip to Grays Harbor and were handed a sweeping defeat (16-25, 24-26, 18-25) in its season opener Tuesday.
“Hope we got rid of the first-night jitters,” first-year Rochester coach Bridget Morris said. “We definitely improved from game one to game two.”
Junior Lauren Rotter, making the move from libero last year to outside this season, was praised for her defensive skills.
“She helped us out tremendously on defense with balls that normally would have dropped,” Morris said.
Morris also commended Roisin Stull’s performance at the net and with serving.
Rochester (0-1) hosts Montesano on Monday. The Bulldogs are coming off a five-set victory over W.F. West.
Playing on the road to open its season, W.F. West fell in five sets to 1A Montesano Tuesday night to start the fall 0-1 in a hard-fought match.
The Bearcats will look to bounce back with a week off before taking on Elma in their home opener next Tuesday.