YAKIMA — Rainier’s welcome to the state volleyball tournament — their first appearance in 24 years — was an eye opener, for sure.
The 16th-seeded Mountaineers found little traction against No. 1 La Conner and its giant team with five players 5-foot-9 or taller, taking a sweeping loss (25-13, 23-7, 25-13) in the first round of the 2B state tourney Thursday in Yakima.
The Mountaineers were no match for the Braves and their powerful, 6-foot hitter Ellie Marble.
“There’s no reason (Marble) doesn’t go play after this,” Rainier coach Shauna Carpenter said. “Our girls are so young, they look at that and they’re like, ‘Oh, my gosh.’ There were a couple scared plays where we literally just ducked out of the way. This is a huge place and we come from a teeny, tiny town.”
It was tough from the get-go for Rainier, as La Conner reeled off an 11-1 run to start the match and never looked back in a 25-7 victory in the first set.
The Mountaineers steadied in the second set and broke off a couple rallies to push the Braves a bit in a 25-13 loss for Rainier, then La Conner pushed the tempo again in the third set to put the match away.
“Second set, we came back and rallied and kind of found our groove, and played the kind of ball we know we can play,” Carpenter said. “It’s hard to play in places like this when you’ve never seen that kind of court and you’ve never seen a ball hit at you that way. But they didn’t quit, they didn’t hang their heads, they didn’t implode from the inside. They encouraged each other.”
Rainier will next play league rival and No. 8 Toutle Lake at 5:15 p.m. in a loser-out match.