MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — The dream season for Monroe’s volleyball team just seems to keep getting better.
The Bearcats reeled off two more wins at Tuesday’s 4A District 1 tournament, highlighted by a 3-0 sweep of Kamiak in the winner-to-state semifinal match. Set scores were 26-24, 25-21 and 27-25.
Not only did the Bearcats qualify for the state tournament, but they also advanced to the district championship match on Thursday where they will face Jackson.
Monroe’s goal throughout the season had been to qualify for the state tournament and after the match, outside hitter Melina Seabrook could hardly put it into words.
“It feels amazing,” she said. “This is so great.”
Underdogs before the season, the Bearcats went through their Wesco North schedule undefeated and now have won their first two games of the district tournament.
“It’s definitely not what we expected coming in, but now that we are here it’s amazing,” Seabrook said.
Head coach April Munoz said the season is beginning to take on a special feel.
“It’s great kids,” she said. “It’s their heart. They just work so hard. They want it. They love each other. They do it for each other. That’s how you go out and win the matches. When you don’t necessarily have the height or the power, you use your heart.”
Kamiak had advanced to the semifinal by coming back from a 2-0 deficit to beat Lake Stevens in the first round. In the second match, the Knights and Bearcats played the first set nearly even, but a late kill by junior Mia Adams propelled Monroe to a 1-0 lead.
The second set was all Bearcats. They never trailed and thwarted two Kamiak runs to win and take a 2-0 lead.
But the Knights had already proven once that they can come back from 2-0 — and late in the third set they looked as though they might do it again. After trailing 23-21, Kamiak scored four of the next five points to take its first lead of the set at 25-24. The Bearcats though remained calm and closed the door on the Knights with a kill from Diedra Miller, a kill from DD Latimore and an ace from Miller to close it out.
Latimore finished the match with 31 assists. Seabrook had 16 kills.
Kamiak coach Natalie Bowie said she wasn’t sure if the grueling first match against Lake Stevens affected her team against Monroe, but she was proud of her team’s effort.
“The first match against Lake Stevens, they played great,” she said. “It says so much about their ability to play with mental toughness and they played with so much heart – us as coaches are just proud. And then going into this match against Monroe we were ready, you know, riled up and ready to go. I can’t say either way if we would have played Monroe first match out. They (the Knights) were fired up, they wanted to get it.”
But as many teams have learned this season through no fault of their own, Monroe seems to be a team on a mission.
“Monroe is a great team,” Bowie said. “They are a solid team. They are very consistent and very composed. They don’t make a lot of errors. Anytime you play a team that’s kind of at the top of (its) game … you’ve got to be ready to play a team like that.”
The ultimate goal for the Bearcats was to qualify for state and that mission is accomplished. But before they look to bring home a trophy from state, they have an opportunity to win one on Thursday when they face second ranked Jackson for the district championship.
“It will be really exciting to play them,” Seabrook said. “Just to see that level of competition.”
In a moment of total honesty, Munoz admitted the task at hand could appear daunting.
“It’s a little intimidating,” she said. “I will be honest with you, it’s a little intimidating. It’s nice to know though that you have nothing to lose. So you can go out there and play your game and whatever happens you are still going to state and so you just go out and play some defense.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
at Mountlake Terrace
Monroe 3, Kamiak 0
Highlights: Kamiak—Dani Smullin 22 assists, 1 ace, 6 kills; Margaret Wallace 8 kills, 3 aces, 3 blocks; Kate Nantz 7 kills, 5 blocks. Monroe—DD Latimore 31 assists; Melina Seabrook 16 kills; Mia Adams 12 kills; Jannae Groeneweg 24 digs; Chloe Cory 15 digs. Records: Kamiak 12-4, Monroe 14-2.
Lake Stevens 3, Lynnwood 0
Highlights: Lynnwood—Grace Douglas 18 assists; Adel Barnes 11 digs; Linda Wilson 9 blocks; Emily Ottman 9 digs; Jenny Martinez 6 kills. Lake Stevens—Emily Vandergrift 12 kills; Alexis Alverson 17 digs; McKayla Huntley 4 blocks, 10 kills. Records—Lynnwood 6-10, Lake Stevens 11-5
Monroe 3, Lynnwood 1
Highlights: Lynnwood—Grace Douglas 28 assists; Adel Barnes 10 kills; Emily Ottman 18 digs; Jenny Martinez 9 kills. Monroe—Melina Seabrook 16 kills, 10 digs; Diedra Miller 10 kills; Jannae Groeneweg 21 digs; DD Latimore 50 assists.
Kamiak 3, Lake Stevens 2
Highlights: Lake Stevens—Kendall Swanson 13 kills; Emily Vandergrift 19 kills; Kahlia Kelliher 10 kills; Alexis Alverson 14 digs. Kamiak—Dani Smullin 46 assists, 8 digs; Margaret Wallace 17 kills; Madison Young 12 kills; Sara Pulaski 29 digs.