|Eastern Regional Champions|
The Hanford Falcons don't know what to do now.
Hanford won the Columbia Basin 3A League regular season title. They won the district title, and on Saturday they won the regional title.
Hanford capped an impressive run with a three-game win over Mount Spokane at Kennewick High School to earn the 3A Eastern Region's No. 1 seed at the state volleyball tournament.
"We have reached all of our goals," said Falcons setter Kristin Barott.
But that doesn't mean Hanford is going to be satsified with its first appearance at the state tournament since 1996, which starts Friday at Toyota Center.
"We just have to make some new goals," said Falcons coach Hugh Harris. "The girls are still hungry."
Southridge will join the Falcons at the state tournament. It's just that the Suns took a much different and harder route to get there.
"I kept telling the girls all we had to do was win three matches," said Southridge coach John Lengphopraseut.
Well, it took the Suns nearly eight hours and 16 games to do that, but after beating Mount Spokane in five games, they punched their first-ever ticket to state by finishing second.
"I really didn't think it would take this long, but we stuck together and pulled through," said an exhausted Suns middle blocker Elizabeth Clark.
Saturday started rather ominous for Southridge. The Suns swept North Central out of the tournament before running into a supercharged Falcons team. After a three-game loss, things got even more interesting and a little hairy for the Suns.
Southridge had to squeeze out two straight five-game matches before it could celebrate.
The Suns were pushed the distance and a little bit further by a surprising Kennewick team before pulling out a five-game win to advance to the winner-to-state match.
Then 20 minutes later, the Suns hit the court against a Mount Spokane team that had just been swept in the championship match by Hanford.
After the teams traded the first four games, it appeared that the Suns' hopes for a state berth was slipping away.
The Wildcats, the No. 1 seed from the Greater Spokane League, jumped out to a quick 8-3 advantage and had all the momentum on their side.
But Clark and Ashleigh Potts would not let the Suns fade.
Southridge scored eight straight points to take an 11-8 advantage.
Mount Spokane rallied to tie the match on three different occasions, the final time at 14. Then Clark finished off the Wildcats with a booming kill and a block.
"We just had to keep pushing," Clark said.
Lengphopraseut added, "It's taken five years for this to happen, and we have gone through a lot as a team. We just stuck together."
Kennewick, the No. 4 seed from the CBL, turned the tournament upside down in the first match of the day, knocking off archrival and No. 2-seed Kamiakin in five games. The Braves were without starting setter Jordan Reddinger, who missed the match to take the SAT.
The Lions then came within a few points of reaching the championship match, up 2-0 against Mount Spokane.
But they squandered an 8-2 lead in the fifth game and were sent into the losers bracket against Southridge.
In a match of attrition, Potts finally put the pesky Lions away with a kill to seal a 17-15 win and keep the Suns' state hopes alive.
"Fifteen games, oh my goodness," said Lions coach Mary Isley. "I don't know how you condition for something like that."
-- Kennewick 3, Kamiakin 2
Kamiakin--Marcy Hjellum 17 kills, 17 for18 serving, 4 aces; Emily Jepsen 5 kills, 4 blocks; Elise Jepsen 5 kills. Kennewick--McKenzie Johnson 12 kills, 24 digs; Alysha Cook 11 kilss, Kaylani Evans 16 digs, 7 kills.
-- Southridge 3, North Central 0
Southridge--Liz Clark 9 kills, 7 blocks; Jenna Rutherford 9 kills, 10 digs, Ashleigh Potts 7 kills, 3 blocks; Karissa Strebin 6 kills, 16 digs; Lauren Williamson 37 assists, 10 digs.
-- Mount Spokane 3, Kennewick 2
Kennewick--McKenzie Johnson10 kills, 24 digs; Alysha Cook 9 kills, 5 blocks; Kaylani Evans 7 kills, 20 digs; Meghan De la Rosa 34 assists, 3 kills.
-- Hanford 3, Southridge 0
Southridge--Elizabeth Clark 5 kills, 3 blocks, Heather Worley 8 kills, 15 digs; Kelsie Butts 31 digs. Hanford--Janelle King 6 kills, 11 for 12 serving, Kristin Barott 4 kills, 31 assists; Brittini Butler 6 kills, 17 of 18 serving 6 aces.
-- Hanford 3, Mount Spokane 0
Hanford--Brittany Quick 10 kills 4 blocks, 5 digs; Kristin Barott 9 kills, 21 assists; Janelle King 4 blocks.
-- Southridge 3, Kennewick 2
Kennewick--Kaylani Evans 13 kills, McKenzie Johnson 10 kills, Alysha Cook 19 kills, 8 blocks; Meghan De La Rosa 47 assists; Keely Thomas 17 digs. Southridge--Elizabeth Clark 12 kills, Ashleigh Potts 11 kills, Jenna Rutherford 7 kills, Lauren Williamson 42 assists, 12 digs, Heather Worley 18 digs.
-- Southridge 3, Mount Spokane 2
Southridge--Elizabeth Clark 9 kills, 7 blocks; Ashleigh Potts 11 kills, Heather Worley 9 kills; Lauren Williamson 33 assists, Kelsie Butts 34 digs, Jenna Rutherford 23 digs.