Lynden Christian powered its way into the Class 1A State Tournament volleyball semifinals Friday with a 25-23, 25-15, 25-22 win over Cascade (Leavenworth) at the Yakima Valley SunDome.
The Lyncs will play Granger, which shocked LaCenter in the other bracket quarterfinal, in the semifinals today at 1 p.m. A win would give LC a shot at a third consecutive state title.
Lynden Christian beat Castle Rock in an opening-round match to set the stage for its third meeting with Cascade in the last five tournaments. All of those meetings have been in the first two rounds and the Lyncs have a 2-1 edge.
The match was every bit as close as LC coach Kim Grycel thought it would be.
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“I thought it was going to be a battle,” Grycel said. We got a little rattled in the second game. I thought (Cascade coach Marni McMahon) had a good game plan but I thought my girls responded.
“I thought some of those really big, long rallies that we came out on top,” she continued, “and when we did that, it kind of took the wind out of them.”
Grycel noted the Kodiaks hadn’t lost a set since September.
The Lyncs dashed out to a 5-1 lead in the first set but couldn’t shake Cascade. Only the second set, where the Lyncs turned a 17-13 lead into a 25-15 win, looked easy.
As expected, the Lyncs made short work of Castle Rock in the opener, dispatching the Rockets 25-12, 25-9, 25-15.
That win was the Lyncs 11th straight in the tournament dating to 2013’s fifth-place squad. “We told these kids we were gonna go out and play, we were going to have more fun and I just love that everybody contributes,” Grycel said. “It’s been neat for this group to try and prove some people wrong.”
Knowing her players couldn’t help but steal a glance at the presumed mega-match in the quarterfinals against Cascade – which easily dispatched Zillah in a first-round match on the adjacent court – LC coach Kim Grycel narrowed the focus to little things.
“We told them all day yesterday and today to take it step by step and try not to look past the team that is right in front of them,” she said.
Even after losing Kara Bajema, arguably the best player in program history, and transitioning to what Grycel termed a more well-rounded squad, LC had way too much for Castle Rock, the third qualifier from District 4.
Hannah Rusnak had 20 kills in the match, and Torino Hommes and Avery Dykstra had seven each. Riley Van Hulzen added a spark off the service line with six aces, and Grycel noted that the junior middle hitter had two key blocks on Rocket middle blocker Auna Dolan.