YAKIMA — The Napavine volleyball team’s struggle with slow starts continued when the Tigers really couldn’t afford it, as they fell 25-19, 25-21, 25-20 to Tri-Cities Prep to end their season at the 2B state tournament.
“They just out-hustled us,” Napavine coach Monica Dailey said. “I feel like they wanted it more than us, and we didn’t come ready to play.”
The Tigers dropped the first set for the third match in a row at the state tournament, giving up a run to bring the deficit to 18-13 and not quite being able to come back.
But unlike in their win over Forks on Thursday night — and like in their first-round loss to Toutle Lake — the Tigers couldn’t turn things around after falling in the 1-0 hole, giving up a late two-point lead and watching the Jaguars finish on an 8-2 run to win..
“We couldn’t serve-receive to save our life, and I just feel like our communication was way off,” Dailey said.
Napavine showed a spark to start the third, but it quickly flared out and it found itself in yet another close set late, which resulted in another close loss in crunch time.
Keira O’Neill put up 15 kills to lead the offense. Morgan Hamilton — the lone senior on the active roster — added 12 kills and 19 digs.
Emily Kang led the back row with 21 digs, while Avery Schutz had 11 to go along with a team-high 15 assists. Jessie McCoy posted 12 assists and three aces.
Grace Gall had eight digs and six kills, and Anna Thompson had a pair of kills and a dig.
The Tigers finish their season with a 15-8 record. A year removed from finishing under .500, Napavine took second place and District 4, and came a match away from bringing home a trophy.
Looking forward, Napavine is set to return all of its roster except for Morgan Hamilton next season, and after making it to Yakima for the first time since 2017, the Tigers are expecting a much quicker return.
“I’m proud of the growth that they had,” Dailey said. “I don’t feel like they showed that growth today, but they worked hard for me. They’re great kids, they’re great teammates, they get along really well. There’s not any drama, which not a lot of programs can brag about. It’s just hard to see the season come to an end this way, because I really felt like we could bring home a trophy.
“It’s a learning experience for them. Next year, we’ll be back, and I think it’ll be a much different outcome.”