LACEY – Lynden’s girls gave a tantalizing demonstration of the potential they may well have to return to the Class 2A state volleyball championships.
Furthermore, after her return this season, coach Chris Elsner offered good news while being congratulated and/or consoled by a seemingly endless stream of fans following the Lions’ 12-25, 25-27, 25-21, 19-25 loss to Burlington-Edison in the title match Saturday night at Saint Martin’s University.
“I’m not going anywhere!” Elsner said through the tears that showed just how much she enjoyed the way her young team improved.
It was the fourth title under Tiger’s coach Tawnya Brewer, or every other year since 2011.
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The Lions were significantly more competitive against the Tigers than the 3-1 score indicates. Elsner agreed that the match represented improvement for Lynden, which lost to Burlington 3-0 in league and district play.
After losing by 13 points in the opening set, and falling behind 1-6 in the second set, the Lions had their fans roaring more often than not all the way through the fourth set.
In the second set, Lynden pulled into a 25-all tie but Burlington’s power-hitting junior Katie King and a Lynden miscue made the final difference.
The third set was even better for Lynden. The Lions trailed 21-20 but tied it with a kill by freshman Faith Barr and won it with four more consecutive points, three on service aces by senior Isabelle Jacob including the winner.
Lynden hung in the entire fourth set, but the shorter Tigers displayed their skill, poise and experience by taking eight of the last 11 points to win by six.
Elsner was especially proud of how well the Lions did “for a team that has not been on this stage.” Lynden’s most recent state appearance was in 2013. The personable coach’s teams earned eight state berths in her first ten seasons at Lynden (1999-2008).
Elsner isn’t one to talk about future potential title matches. Her mantra has always been “we just want to get better.” And the Lions usually have under her guidance.
In the semifinals, Lynden scored a most worthy 25-20, 25-17, 25-21 win over Ridgefield, which came in with 36 state appearances, more than any team in any division in the state.
The Lions finished with encouraging numbers in the title match. Jacob had a team-high 15 kills, followed by Barr with nine and senior Abi Broussard with eight. Jacob and Broussard figure to be a challenge to replace.
Savonne Sterk and Lauren Groen led the Lions with 15 digs apiece and Robin Scarlett had 14, followed by Jacob and junior setter Kyla Bonsen with 11 each. Bonsen had 42 assists and five aces. Jacob’s ace spree at the end of the third set enabled her to finish with five and Noelle Price had three. Baar and Sterk had three blocks each.
“Our team was a two-year plan,” said Brewer, in part referring to the development of the Tigers’ lone seniors, clever setter Allyson Ray (14 digs, 34 assists) and daring power hitter Afton Field (16 kills, three blocks). Potential-laden junior Katie King (16 digs, 14 kills) seemed all over the court for Burlington, which had only one service error.
Jacob led Lynden’s semifinal win over Ridgefield with 18 digs and 10 kills. Sterk had 11 kills, Broussard scored nine (including the match-clincher) and Baar had six in a nice display of balance. The same could be said in digs, with strong support for Jacob by Bonsen and Scarlett (10 apiece) Price (eight) and Kelsey Debruin (six).
This was the 21st appearance at state for Lynden, which this season won 20 matches (both best of five and best of three (against seven losses). Burlington finished 29-3 overall.
Lynden volleyball trophy case