Centralia coach Marti Smith did some research to see when the last time the Tigers’ volleyball team won an outright conference title. She couldn’t find any records of it ever happening.
So on Thursday, the Tigers sweep of Rochester (25-17, 25-15, 25-18) gave the Centralia its first outright conference title in recent memory, maybe decades, maybe ever, she said.
It’s been a whirlwind of a season for the Tigers, who were winless just two years ago, and are now sitting at 9-1 overall with the 2A Evergreen Conference title and the leagues No. 1 seed heading into the district playoffs next week.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Smith said.
Against the Warriors, junior Jadyn Hawley led the Tigers with 22 digs and 10 kills, while Madelinn Corwin added seven kills and three blocks. Lily Miller contributed four kills and three blocks, Ella Orr, filling in for an injured Evie Rooklidge at libero, dug 23 balls and was 11-for-12 serving. Madison Stoeckler was a perfect 17-for-17 serving with 19 digs and 30 assists.
Now the Tigers receive a first-round bye at districts and will host the winner of W.F. West (4-7) and Aberdeen (2-8), on Thursday. While libero Evie Rooklidge being out with an injury is a definite blow to the Tigers, middle blocker Hailey Brann, an emotional leader on the court, recently returned from an injury of her own and has provided an instant boost.
“The girls aren’t afraid to step up and take on new roles,” Smith said “Overall, everybody stepped up and played their part. We still feel like we’ve got a lot to prove. We know there are teams that still doubt us. We’ve got to show up and do our part.”
It wasn’t the end to the regular season W.F. West had hoped for, getting swept (25-6, 25-13, 25-18) at home Thursday.
But the Bearcats, who drop to 4-7 overall and 4-6 in league play, are still in the district playoffs next week. And what’s even better, they get to host their first-round game against Aberdeen at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Against Tumwater, the Bearcats gained momentum and confidence after losing the first set by 19 points. But by the time they righted the ship, it was too late to recover.
“We got better as the game went on,” W.F. West coach Emily Mora said. “With the emotions of senior night... we put too much pressure on ourselves.”
Morgan Rogerson set the tone for the Bearcats, serving 100% and notching two aces. Alisha Anderson added a team-high 17 digs and Savannah Hawkins was right behind her with 12 of her own.
Now the Bearcats set their sights on Aberdeen (2-8) in the opening round of the playoffs, a team W.F. West has beaten twice already this season, 3-1 and 3-0. The winner advances to the second round to face Centralia (8-1), the 2A Evergreen Conference champion.