EVERETT — When the season began, Snohomish High School’s volleyball team set out to win a league championship.
And earn a berth to the state tournament.
And win the district championship.
The Panthers marked off the last of those three goals Thursday night with a 3-0 victory over Mount Vernon in the 4A district 1 championship match. Snohomish beat the Bulldogs 25-13, 25-21 and 25-23.
“It’s awesome,” Snohomish’s star outside hitter Lanesha Reagan said. “Going into the season, I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. Was it going to go like last year, or was it going to go like freshman year?”
So far, it’s looking more like Reagan’s freshman year when the Panthers finished fifth in state as opposed to last year when they failed to advance out of districts.
Reagan’s six kills and one ace helped the Panthers take the first set in impressive fashion, winning 25-13 and never trailing. The Bulldogs quickly fell behind 11-2 and were never able to climb out of the hole.
Mount Vernon responded from the slow start to take an early lead in the second set, but as they showed throughout the match, the Panthers were just too much. With Reagan not having her best night — though still a fine performance — her teammates stepped up and helped her out. Sophomore Maddy Smith was a force at the net, finishing with six kills and four blocks, and teammate Kyla Mellick added eight kills.
“My team is always like that,” Reagan said. “No matter what the stats say, it’s always a team effort.”
Reagan finished the match with 19 kills, two aces and 19 digs.
Playing as a team has been a focus of the Panthers since the season began.
“We’ve been preaching, ‘team, team, team; energy, energy, energy,’ and that’s what we were trying to go after tonight,” Snohomish coach Alex Tarin said. “It was an all-around team effort. We had a gameplan going into it and we executed it well.”
The Bulldogs held a late lead at 21-20 in the third set, but the Panthers scored five of the last seven points to win the match.
With Thursday’s victory, the Panthers closed out both the regular season and the district tournament with 3-0 victories over Mount Vernon. Though the score might not show it, Tarin said the Bulldogs gave the Panthers a tougher match the second time around.
“I kept telling the girls, ‘They are going to bring it,’” Tarin said. “You don’t get to the district championship by not being a good team. They are a good solid team and they have a good coaching staff. We knew that it wouldn’t be as easy as the first time.”
In addition to Mount Vernon, the Panthers had to beat Monroe and Lake Stevens to earn the district championship, all teams Tarin considers to be quality opponents.
“I’m glad that we played the teams that we played,” Tarin said. “Any time you go into the semifinals and the championship and go 3-0, 3-0, it’s a really good omen and good momentum.”
Even though Reagan didn’t have her best performance statistically, it was a pretty good outing for the senior outside hitter. Not only did she win her first district championship, but she also was named to the Under Armour’s All-American second-team by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.
“It’s really cool,” Reagan said. “I didn’t think I would be because usually 5-(foot)-9 outside (hitters) don’t usually get awards and that kind of stuff, so it feels nice.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Highlights–Mount Vernon: not reported. Snohomish: Lanesha Reagan 19 kills, two aces, 19 digs; Kyla Mellick eight kills; Cyrene Hertzog 22 digs, three aces; Madeline Smith six kills, four blocks; Emma McNeil 17 assists; Kendle Valade-Nunez 17 assists.