by MICHAEL DASHIELL
The only thing standing between Sequim and a return trip to the class 2A state tournament was a familiar foe.
With a five-set win against the Olympic Trojans at the West Central District consolation finals Saturday, the Wolves are headed back to a familiar tournament, too: state.
Sequim survived a big comeback in the fourth set to oust Olympic to secure one of the final two district berths to state, then won a coin toss to pick up a No. 5 seed.
Sequim will open the class 2A state tournament against No. 1-seeded Anacortes at 8 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 12. The winner of that first-round match takes on the winner of the Grandview/Tumwater match in the quarterfinals, while the losers of those two matches play each other in the consolation bracket.
This is Sequim's second appearance in the past three seasons.
"I know they're really excited to go, that they want to do well," Sequim coach Jennie Webber Heilman said of her rather young team that features just two seniors.
"Jessica (Lauritzen) and Maddy (Zbaraschuk) have been there before; we're not complete newbies. I just hope they go there and play well."
Play well is exactly what the Wolves did at the district tourney in Tacoma last weekend, opening with a three-set win against Sumner on Nov. 5.
In the second round, however, Sequim dropped a three-set decision to White River. The Hornets won 25-12, 25-7, 21-25 and 25-18, and went on to finish second to Fife in the tournament.
Dropped into the consolation bracket, Sequim needed two wins for a state berth. The Wolves got their first in a three-set win (25-16, 25-21, 25-18) against Evergreen.
That set up a match against Olympic in the consolation semis. In the regular season, Olympic topped Sequim in four sets on Sept. 21 and the Wolves reciprocated on Oct. 21, topping the Trojans in four sets.
At districts, Sequim had the Trojans' number once again - but it wasn't easy. The Wolves held a two-sets-to-one lead (25-16, 27-15, 22-25) and came within a point of closing the match out in the fourth set.
Olympic got on a streak, though, and forced a fifth and final set.
"I don't know if it needed to be that close," Webber Heilman said. "We should have had the game won in the fourth game. At least when we went to the fifth, (our players) weren't defeated."
The Wolves jumped out to a modest lead and got to 13 points before Olympic rebounded. Needing two points to win, Sequim sophomore Haleigh Harrison hit past an Olympic blocker for the 14th point, then stuffed a Trojan attack for the 15th and final point, winning the set 15-13.
Webber Heilman credited Harrison, Lauritzen, Kyla Martin and Marissa Haner for pacing the offense, and Taylor Balkan for superior setting.
It's Sequim's fifth state berth since 2000.
"I really wanted them to make it," Webber Heilman said. "I know our team is kind of on the young side. From knowing how we played during to the season, I thought, 'I know we can make it (to state).'"
She said her team will need to focus on blocking and passing to succeed in Kennewick.
Reach Michael Dashiell at firstname.lastname@example.org.