Lady Pirates No. 1 in State!
November 21, 2019
YAKIMA–After three straight years of yielding the championship spotlight to Oakesdale, the Pomeroy Lady Pirates Volleyball Team swept the WIAA 1B State Volleyball Tournament last week, defeating Southeast rival Oakesdale in a five-set championship match here Friday, November 15. The win snapped a four-year championship streak for the Lady Nighthawks, three of those at the expense of the Lady Pirates, in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
The crown is the first championship for the Pomeroy Volleyball Program since the 2014-15 season.
"We've been playing together for all these years and we just never give up," said senior setter/libero Heidi Heytvelt.
Against Oakesdale in the championship match, the Lady Pirates rallied in the fifth set after the team took a two-set lead. The Lady Pirates then watched their advantage crumble, but dug deep to win the state crown with a thrilling 16-14 fifth-set score. Set scores in the championship match were 25-21, 25-21, 22-25, 20-25, 16-14.
"That's pretty much characteristic of this team," commented Head Coach Amy Smith. "They tend to dig themselves a hole then climb out of it. It's stressful on the coach, but on the flip side, they never give up."
In the first match, Pomeroy defeated the Naselle Lady Comets, recovering from a case of the doldrums in the third set for the three-set win, 25-21, 25-11, 27-25, on Thursday, November 14. The victory set up the next match against the winner of the Wilson Creek-Grace Academy match.
"I'm going to chalk it up to jitters," Smith said. "Actually, for most of them it's their first time with a lot of playing time on this floor and it can be pretty intimidating at first.
"Maddy [Dixon], Sydney [Watko], Alyssa [Wolf] and Heidi [Heytvelt], they've played some [here at state], but not in their roles. Maddy is the only one really in her role that she was last year. So, it's exciting and nerves.
"They're kind of the 'come-back kids,'" she said.
In the quarterfinal match Thursday, the Lady Pirates faced Wilson Creek in an evening contest, slashing through the Lady Devils' opposition in three sets, 25-20, 25-14, 25-12.
On the other side of the bracket, Oakesdale's Lady Nighthawks flew through the Providence Classical Christian team in three sets, 25-15, 25-13, 25-9, and had no trouble with Mount Vernon Christian, 25-14, 25-10, 25-15, to advance to the semifinals.
In Friday's opening match, the Lady Pirates started the day off with a challenging match against perennial powerhouse Almira Coulee Hartline, who placed second last year to Oakesdale.
"We were pretty evenly matched," Smith commented. "We lost to them last year in the semifinals. They lost some seniors and we lost some seniors so I anticipated it would be a good match.
"The girls just had to fight pretty hard," Smith continued. "It was kind of the them of the whole game."
The first set was grueling, and went to the WIAA RPI top-ranked Lady Warriors by a seldom-seen score of 32-34.
"They really had to dig deep," Smith said. "To start off losing that set was tough. We knew right then it was going to go down to the wire because we were so evenly matched."
Pomeroy evened it up with a 25-19 win in the second set, and took a 2-1 lead with a third-set win of 25-15.
Again, that letdown happened. The Lady Warriors of ACH rallied with a 14-25 tilt to even it up 2-2, sending the decision to a fifth set. "Again, we would tend to do that this season," Smith said. "We would win pretty big, then have a letdown. We worked on that and talked about it through the year. Volleyball is such a momentum sport."
Pomeroy came through with a 15-11 win to advance to the championship court.
Oakesdale, who handed the Lady Pirates a loss in the District Tournament, had little trouble with Odessa, taking the semifinal match in three sets, 25-19, 25-12, 25-16.
Meeting on the Championship Court at 1:30 p.m. Friday, the Lady Pirates jumped to a 2-0 lead with sets of 25-21 and 25-21. Then the Lady Nighthawks found their strength and bounced back, winning 22-25 and 20-25.
The fifth and deciding set was a taut, extra-points win for the Lady Pirates, 16-14. Pomeroy had broken the 14-14 tie by winning the side out. The serve was received by Oakesdale, dug to the setter and passed for the kill, but the kill shot was at an angle and landed wide.
Finishing with a championship celebration was sweet, Smith said, considering that many members of this squad were on teams that finished second to Oakesdale in previous years, and also finished second in state to Colton in basketball. "This group has experienced more than their fair share of second-places," Smith said. "That could've been part of it. Tired of coming in second and decided they weren't going to let that happen this year."