Centralia won’t be playing in the postseason. Thursday night, the Tigers knew that win or lose, their season would be over on senior night against their rival, W.F. West.
After dropping the first set, the Tigers rallied behind their student section and hometown crowd, and shocked the Bearcats in a four-set win, 20-25, 25-21, 25-19, 25-22.
“It was our playoffs,” Tigers coach Marti Smith said. “They were all about leaving it all on the floor tonight. We played every point like it was our last.”
Saving perhaps their best performance of the season for last, the Tigers got great nights across the board, and from their four seniors: Jadyn Hawley, Ella Orr, Evie Rooklidge, and Anna Stinkeoway.
Hawley stuffed the statsheet, with 10 kills, 26 digs, and a perfect 21 for 21 serving line. Orr went for nine kills, 21 digs, and another perfect 13 for 13 serving, and Rooklidge finished with 20 digs.
Outside the seniors, Makayla Chavez had four kills, Tatum Johnston had five, and Peyton Smith had 13 digs to go along with 30 assists.
“We covered our hitters really well tonight,” Smith said. “Every person had an impact on the match.”
Smith highlighted the play of sophomore Emily Wilkerson, in particular, as bringing a new energy in the second set and helping the Tigers ride that momentum to a victory Thursday night.
Smith also said that the energy brought by the Centralia crowd and student section, in particular, made a huge difference tonight, like all season.
"We probably wouldn't have had the energy we had without the student section," she said. "I want to shout out and thank them. They brought it all night."
For the Bearcats, it was an up-and-down match. Though they fought hard to extend rallies, the Tigers were often on the right end of the volleys, and were impressive defensively.
“We just couldn’t finish,” Bearcats coach Robert Lucas said. “They are a really scrappy team, they always have been. Hats off to them for playing great defense.”
Junior Morgan Rogerson led the way for the Bearcats with eight kills, and Ava Olsen and Anna White weren’t far behind with six kills and three blocks a piece. The Bearcats finished with 14 aces as a team.
“It’s not fun to lose right before playoffs,” Lucas said. “But we played hard, we just left it out on the court.”
The Bearcats season will continue, as the fourth seed in the 2A Evergreen Conference. They’ll play either Woodland or Washougal in a pigtail matchup to get into districts next Tuesday down south. If W.F. West can get past that matchup, it’ll play top 2A GSHL seed Columbia River in the opening round of the playoffs.