In the final poll prior to the class 2A state tournament, coaches picked Sequim among the elite, but just outside the top eight teams.
That’s about where Sequim finished.
Sequim’s Wolves knocked off Steilacoom in the opening round but dropped matches to Colville and Anacortes to finish one win shy of the medal stand at the 2A state finals at Pierce College in Tacoma last weekend.
Sequim started strong on Friday evening, knocking off fellow West Central District foe Steilacoom in three sets (25-13, 25-21, 25-13).
After dropping the second set in all three district games — matches they wound up winning — Sequim slipped into an old habit, falling behind Steilacoom with a 9-2 deficit in their second set.
The Wolves rebounded well, however, roaring back with strong serves and a balanced attack. After winning the second set, the Wolves simply rolled in the third.
“That was the deal, to not drop that second set,” Sequim coach Jennie Webber Heilman said. “The girls said, ‘If we do our job, we can win the game.’”
Haleigh Harrison paced the attack with 15 kills, two blocks and four aces while Alexas Besand and Emily Wallner had six kills apiece. Taylor Balkan added 26 assists and 18 digs, and Rylleigh Zbaraschuk had 12 digs.
While Sequim's team won the match, they lost a key player in junior Kate Harker, who rolled an ankle late in the contest and had to be helped off the court. She didn’t return to play and the injury was serious enough to have coaches and parents talking surgery.
Taking on Colville, Anacortes
Friday night’s quarterfinal match saw Sequim match up with Colville, the reigning 1A state champs who moved up to 2A with a bump in enrollment. Turns out the Indians brought with them their mastery of the game, spiking the Wolves in three sets (25-13, 25-17, 25-17).
Joellee Bruckner and Jacy Vining dominated the net, peppering the Wolves’ defense with quick hits from varying angles.
“Their advantage was their speed,” Webber Heilman said. “We weren’t able to get a block up on them.”
Bruckner had five kills and an ace in a dominating first set, putting the Wolves on their heels.
Harrison led a spirited second set that saw the Wolves match the Indians to a 14-14 tie, but a series of Sequim errors and a pair of big hits from Vining spurred a 9-1 Colville run that the Wolves never recovered from.
Colville took advantage of SHS hitting errors in the third set to grab an 11-6 lead and wore down the Wolves for the three-set win.
Harrison finished with 11 kills, three blocks and an ace, Balkan had 18 assists and 11 digs, and Hannah Hudson had 13 digs. Zbaraschuk was five-for-five on serves, Emily Wallner had two kills, Besand had a pair of kills and Emily LeBlanc had an ace and six digs.
“(Colville) blocked well and served really well,” Webber Heilman said. “I suspect they’ll get to the finals.” Colville nearly did, taking eventual runner-up Tumwater to five sets before dropping the match and finishing fourth.
With an early game the next day, Sequim dropped a three-set match to Anacortes (25-12, 25-19, 25-18).
Harrison once again led Sequim with 12 kills and nine digs while Caitlin Stofferahn and Emily Wallner had six kills each. Balkan had 23 assists and Alexas Besand added three kills and two blocks. Hudson and Zbaraschuk had 10 digs apiece.
"We fought hard in this match," Webber Heilman said. "Anacortes had a great offensive team and we were not able to block them well enough."
Anacortes' Seahawks, who barely lost to Tumwater in a five-set quarterfinal match, went on to beat defending 2A state champ Burlington-Edison for fifth place.
West Valley of Yakima, last year’s state 3A champ, beat out Tumwater in four sets for this year’s 2A title. Selah edged Colville for third place. East Valley-Yakima was seventh and Capital was eighth.
Teams from Sequim’s West Central District struggled at the state tourney, as the six competing teams — Sequim, Steilacoom, Washington, Fife, Sumner and White River — went a combined 2-12, with just one win (Washington vs. Sehome) coming against a team from a different district. Two of the teams — Steilacoom and White River — didn’t win a set.
In other state tourneys, Bellarmine Prep edged Mead for the 4A title while Prairie swept North Thurston for the 3A crown. Castle Rock beat Lakeside-Nine Mile Falls in four sets for the 1A championship.
Reardan needed five sets to knock off Colfax for the 2B championship, while Tekoa-Oakesdale topped Colton for the 1B title.
Among the elite
Sequim was the only team west of the Puget Sound — regardless of classification — to get a state ranking.
Final state rankings:
Class 2A — 1, Tumwater. 2, Burlington-Edison. 3, Selah. 4, Colville. 5, Anacortes. 6, West Valley (Yakima). 7, Sehome. 8, Capital (Olympia). 9, Sequim. 10, East Valley (Spokane).