YAKIMA - Cassie Mulder struggled to balance her emotions in the Yakima SunDome late Friday, Nov. 9.
On one hand, the realization that her high school career had just ended minutes before in a 25-8, 25-16, 25-17 Class 1A State Volleyball Tournament consolation bracket loss to Freeman had her in tears.
One the other, the young Lynden Christian team she had practically willed into the state tournament had her smiling as she stopped to consider just what the last two weeks had been about.
"I'm obviously sad because my high school career is over, but getting here this year balances that out," she said.
Lyncs coach Kim Grycel, had nothing but praise for Mulder's effort, both Friday and in guiding her young squad through a grueling district tournament that included four straight elimination matches.
"She played club ball last summer and that really helped her raise her game," the 16-year veteran coach said. "She showed our kids the level of work it takes to get to state."
A loss to Leavenworth Cascade in the opener dropped the Lyncs into the consolation bracket after two straight semifinal appearances. The second loss snapped LC's trophy run. The Lyncs have trophied 14 times in 20 trips to state.
"We knew we were in for a tough match when we drew Cascade," Grycel said. "They have some really good hitters. We tried to do some things to slow them down with our block but not a lot of it worked."
After a consistent run of teams considered at the least trophy threats, the Lyncs came to Yakima this year with a squad regarded as - at best - a darkhorse.
"Some of our youth showed through today," Grycel said. "We had some nice runs but we kept making mistakes."
That youth has Grycel enthused about the future. After a lengthy closed door meeting after the second loss, she emerged upbeat and noted that she'd start practice for her 2013 team Monday afternoon if WIAA guidelines would allow it.
And those returning players will start with a message from Mulder.
"They know they have to leave it all out there," the senior said. "There's no reason to have anything left."