BELLINGHAM - All four Northwest Conference volleyball teams in the Class 2A Bi-District Volleyball Tournament are headed to state. Burlington-Edison took first with a win over second-place Sehome, and Squalicum was third with a win over fourth-place Lynden.
Burlington-Edison and Sehome both knew they were in state, as they played for first and second in the district. The Tigers came out on top in the 25-17, 25-19, 25-18 victory over the Mariners in the Saturday, Nov. 9, set of tournament games at Squalicum High School.
Sehome's Dani Johnson had seven kills and an ace, and Erika Smith and Danielle Strasser each added seven kills with no errors.
In the third-place match, Squalicum overcame an early challenge from Lynden to win 27-25, 25-10, 25-14. Lynden took fourth place with the loss.
Prior to the third-place match, Squalicum defeated Archbishop Murphy in a loser-out game 25-23, 25-18, 19-25, 25-23. The Storm played well as a team to overcome Archbishop Murphy's Jamie Cymbaluk, who was all over the court making block after block, and driving strong kills over the net.
"We knew Archbishop Murphy would go middle and out a lot, so we worked on shifting our blocks," Squalicum coach Laurie Quigley said. "We knew they were going to get points, so it wasn't our goal to shut them down, but to keep the play alive."
To get to the third-place match and earn a berth to state, Lynden defeated Lakewood 25-22, 15-25, 17-25, 25-17, 15-8. Kat Webb led the Lions with 39 kills between both matches, and Kelsey Bouwman added 15 total kills. Kaitlyn Mark also had 56 assists.
"We came out consistent in the first set, and then took the next two sets off," Lynden coach Julie Clift said. "We played well with our backs against the wall. The long rallies helped us pick up the intensity."
But against Squalicum for third place, Clift said her team was emotionally drained from the excitement of earning a state playoff berth.
"We have to be able to come back and play hard (in that type of situation)," she added.
Sehome only had to play once, but was unlucky enough to have to take on the only team to beat them - No. 1 Burlington-Edison.
"The last time we played them, it was very competitive," Sehome coach Kristy White said. "Today it was just sloppy."
Despite the inconsistent play, the Mariners showed flashes of being able to give Burlington-Edison a run for its money. But each time Sehome started a short run of points, an unforced error stopped the Mariners' momentum.
"Emily Greer came in ready to play, which opened up Taylor Lyall," White said. "We have to keep playing our game and clean it up."
Lyall seemed to be the key to Sehome's big plays, with a good mix of perfectly placed kills and strong kills through the Burlington-Edison block. She tried to get her team going with a big block midway through the final set, but the Tigers managed to keep the momentum.
Even though she was disappointed in the result, White said she was glad to have the opportunity to play Burlington-Edison twice already. She added that the challenge of playing a top team would make other games in the state tournament seem easier.
For Squalicum, just reaching the state tournament was a big deal. Quigley said it was a very emotional experience for her team, but that anything more was just "icing on the cake."
"I told our seniors that it's up to them how long they want to play, they can keep extending their last season," she added.
With the double-elimination style at the state tournament, each team has at least two more games, but each team will be prepared for more after enduring the grueling 2A District 1/2 Volleyball Tournament.