Outside hitter Emily Greer’s notion of “we might not beat teams by a lot, but it’s going to take one heck of a team to beat us” has become somewhat of the mantra for Sehome’s volleyball team.
The Mariners found that “one heck of a team” on Saturday, Nov. 15, at Pierce College, falling to North Kitsap 25-22, 25-22, 23-25, 25-15 in the Class 2A state tournament semifinal match.
“They did a really nice job of getting us out of system, and not allowing us to play our volleyball,” Sehome coach Kristy White said. “They’re truly the first team that’s been able to do that this entire season.”
It didn’t start that way for the Mariners though. They won the first five points of the contest and were playing with more excitement than usual.
But that changed after the first five points, as North Kitsap responded and pulled to a 12-8 lead before eventually winning the first set.
“I think we were playing scared. It was like ‘This is the last game to get to the championships,’” Sehome outside hitter Dani Johnson said. “I think we were kind of nervous. We just weren’t playing Sehome volleyball.”
North Kitsap, which like Sehome was undefeated heading into the match, was dominant in the second set despite a late run by the Mariners and got the second win.
In the third game, the Vikings got up 18-13 and Sehome was facing elimination. Not wanting to end just yet, the Mariners rallied back, went on a four-point run and eventually won the set.
“We talked about it in the third game. Do we want to leave saying we could have done these things,” White said. “That’s what got us fired up. That’s what changed.”
A lot of that fire and resilience came from the seniors (Johnson, Megan Greer, Natalie Knops, Maddy Bryan and Kori Campbell) , who White says have been great all year at keeping the team in it.
“They’re phenomenal. I got emotional in the fourth game just listening to them congratulate each other,” White said. “They never got mad at each other, they never got down.”
Despite losing the semifinal game, spirits were surprisingly high as the Mariners walked off the court.
“We talked about if we lose, what’s going to happen,” White said. “It’s OK if a team beats us. It’s not OK if we beat ourselves. North Kitsap did a good job of truly beating us.”
The Mariners still improved on their 2013 fourth-place finish in the third-place game later in the evening, despite falling to Selah 21-25, 25-21, 25-22, 25-11.
Even though Sehome wanted the win, it was more important to get the opportunity to play one more time.
“We wanted to come out and play our game for the last time,” White said. “ It’s a special group.”
The game also signaled the end of a class of seniors that changed the face of Sehome volleyball.
In the four years prior to this class arriving, the Mariners went 35-34 without a state berth.
Since this group arrived, Sehome has gone 64-20 with a state berth every year and it all ended in a near-perfect 19-2 season.
“It was a really iconic season,” White said. “This group is fun. They live, eat, drink and sleep volleyball. They really are there for each other.”
Setter Megan Greer said she couldn’t have had a better team for her senior year.
“It was great. We had a great season,” Greer said. “I’ve been playing with these girls for six or seven years. Each year we improve and it feels great.”
Greer isn’t sure what she’s going to do next in terms of volleyball but her sister, Emily Greer does and that’s being a leader of Sehome next season.
Emily Greer is only a junior this season, and will be looked to as a leader next season.
And despite losing five seniors, White knows the Mariners program will be just fine.
“We’re just going to go in, work our butts off and we’re going to play volleyball and have fun with it,” White said. “Obviously we love to be here at state and get a trophy. That’s great. But that’s not why we play the game.
“It’s because we enjoy the game and have fun with it. Out of that, we’ve had success. The younger girls, they see that and they’re excited to work hard. That’s just built into our program.”