Wolves headed back to State after four-set win over Aberdeen


TUMWATER — The 2A District 4 Tournament bracket finally let the Black Hills volleyball team come to the big stage in the main gym at Tumwater, and playing on their rivals’ home court, the Wolves made the most of the opportunity with a 25-17, 22-25, 25-22, 25-19 win over Aberdeen in a loser-out, winner-to-State matchup.

And now, the Wolves are headed back to Yakima for the second straight year, after last season’s trip ended a four-year absence.

“I’m really excited that we have plans for the next week,” first-year Black Hills coach Karlee Sampson said.

After starting their morning with a semifinal match against defending state champion Columbia River — which the Wolves lost 25-10, 25-16, 25-19 — Black Hills had to move down the halls and come right back to take on an Aberdeen team that it had swept twice in the regular season.

But for the Wolves, it wasn’t necessarily a matter of having to bounce back from just their fifth loss of the season.

“They played well but we hung with them,” Sampson said. “I know we got better that game, and even after we lost that game our girls were coming off the court happy because of how well we showed up. I thought that gave us good momentum to come in here and beat Aberdeen.”

Once the match started, Black Hills took a couple of sets to re-adjust to a more normal tempo for 2A volleyball, splitting the first two and coming to a 13-13 tie in the third.

But at that point, senior 2A EvCo MVP Ashley Harris rotated to the front row, and the Wolves took over.

“There’s no denying her, she’s going to put the ball away,” Sampson said  But giving the ball to our other hitters and making sure the other hitters are getting a chance too, it keeps their defense guessing.”

One kill by Harris later, and the Wolves had a lead they wouldn’t give up. Soon, that was up to four, and Black Hills held on to take the pivotal set.

Harris, who set the all-time Black Hills single-season record for kills earlier in the day, finished with 21 kills on the match, getting the ball set to her in just about every rotation. She also racked up eight digs and two blocks.

Claire Johnson added eight kills and eight digs. Ava Klovas and Ellie Johnson both posted six kills, and Johnson had three blocks to lead the defense at the net.

Lilly Kincaid dished out 40 assists across the four sets and also had 12 digs. Madison Malone led the back row with 25 digs, while libero Anneliese Dale logged 14 digs and had the Wolves’ only two aces of the match.

The Wolves will learn their seeding for the 2A state tournament Sunday. When they get to Yakima, they’ll be gunning for their first win at State — and first State placing — since 2011.