YAKIMA - McKenzie Impero was hoping for much more for the Nooksack Valley volleyball team at the Class 1A State Volleyball Tournament.
Impero and her teammates were eliminated from the event in two matches at the Yakima Valley SunDome, losing to King's Way 25-15, 25-27, 25-15, 25-22 and Annie Wright 25-13, 25-20, 25-16 on Friday, Nov. 9.
The loss ends a season that saw the Pioneers return to state for the first time since 2007.
Nooksack's last trophy came in 2002 when the Pioneers brought back a seventh-place plaque.
Nonetheless, it was a season of progress. The team played twice in the SunDome, and for Impero, it was a result she can live with.
"I'll take it," the outside hitter said with a grin when asked about balancing the end of her high school career with a trip to state.
Impero said before coming to Yakima that she realized her teammates would take their emotional cues from her and McKinna Larson. Even as the second match wound down, Impero was imploring her squad to keep battling.
Coach Jenny Simmons was philosophical about balancing the disappointment of a loss with the progress her team made.
"It was a hard road just to get here," Simmons said. "I told the girls they have to appreciate how hard they worked.
"It's a really hard thing to play at state the first time. It's uncharted territory but we want to use every experience along the way to build for next year."
Nooksack bounced back from a 25-17 first-game loss against King's Way with a 27-25 triumph in Game 2.
But, in their first state appearance since 2007, the Pioneers looked every bit the newcomer the rest of the match.
Nooksack was caught flatfooted when King's Way began attacking from the outside right - an offensive tactic it had not seen much of this season.
"They had a really strong right side hitter," Simmons said. "We haven't seen that a lot. We lost a little confidence in our system when that started to work for them."
Libero Mariah Perry did her best to hold things together - Simmons singled out her passing and defense - but the Knights won games 3 and 4 easily 25-15, 25-22.