Four consecutive state tournaments for Ferndale’s volleyball team. That’s quite a feat for seniors such as Taryn Potter, who have been with the team all four years. But the Golden Eagles aren’t just settling for getting to the tournament anymore. The last three times the Golden Eagles made the Class 3A tourney, they were eliminated on the first day. Ferndale returns all but one player from last year’s state roster and has a cast of players ready to put the past disappointments behind them. Ferndale lost only three times this season — all to top-tier opponents. The Golden Eagles are playing good volleyball right now, and despite a tough quarter bracket boasting last year’s 3A third-place team and No. 1-ranked Columbia River and a first-round matchup with No. 7 Lakeside Seattle, nobody should be surprised to see Ferndale playing on Saturday. Here’s how the Class 3A tournament breaks down:
To win, Ferndale will need: To believe in itself. The Golden Eagles have a great defense, which has been the focus all season, coach Patti Hoelze said in an email, and have competed with some of the top teams in the state, including splitting sets with Auburn Riverside, last year’s state champions, in a tournament. “We need to believe that we deserve to be there and deserve to compete with these top teams,” Hoezle said. With three state tournaments worth of experience under their belt, the Golden Eagles should be comfortable with the environment by now, and with the weapons and chemistry this team has exhibited this year, Ferndale should enter the tournament with its sights aimed high.
To top the Golden Eagles, opponents will need: To be creative. As mentioned above, Ferndale has a great defense. It will force teams to find different ways to score against the Golden Eagles. Teams will also have to be aware of where Ferndale’s hits are coming from. Taryn Potter, Whitney Walker and Rose Compton all are capable of kills, and that keeps oppposing teams on their toes. The Golden Eagles have to execute their offense but have plenty of capable weapons.
Ferndale’s first game: No. 7 Lakeside Seattle (18-2) at 9:45 a.m. Friday, Nov. 13, at Toyota Center in Kennewick.
Other teams in the Golden Eagles’ quarter bracket: Prairie (10-9) and No. 1 Columbia River (17-1, Greater St. Helens 3A champions).
Favorites to make the semifinals: Auburn Riverside, Kennedy Catholic, Mercer Island, Columbia River.
Ferndale faces a tough road to the semifinals, considering both the third and fourth-place teams from last year’s state tournament are in the Golden Eagles’ quarter bracket. Columbia River won that third-place match last year and is likely the favorite to make the semifinal as the No. 1-ranked team by coaches. The Chieftains potentially face Mercer Island, the SPSL 3A champions and No. 4-ranked team. The Islanders do face some tough opponents, including No. 6 and undefeated Shorewood in their quarter bracket but finished fifth at state last year and have a good chance of making it to the semis this year. On the other side, last year’s state champion Auburn Riverside is ranked No. 5 heading into the tourney this year and will likely have a quarterfinal matchup with No. 3 Holy Names. It’s a toss-up but the Ravens have the experience. Joining them will probably be Kennedy Catholic, which put together a great season in the Seamount Conference this year and don’t have the toughest quarter bracket to get through.
The Herald’s projected final: Auburn Riverside vs. Columbia River.
Dark horse team: Mt. Spokane. It’s the first time the Wildcats have been in the tournament since 2012, but little is known about the team from across the mountains. They do have a history of winning state matches, though, going 12-10 in their six-year run of consecutive state berths from 2007-2012. Don’t sleep on the Wildcats.