By David Pan Weekly Herald sports editor
SNOHOMISH — Expectations were running high for Meadowdale coming into last week’s 3A District 1 volleyball tournament.
The Mavericks were looking for their fourth straight district championship and fourth straight trip to the state tournament. All that stood in their way was arch-rival Lynnwood.
It was by no means easy but Meadowdale met those high expectations with a hard-fought 17-25, 25-13, 22-25, 25-15, 15-10 victory over the Royals in the district championship match Nov. 5 at Glacier Peak High School.
Senior setter Payton Shrum and her teammates set state as a goal at the start of the season.
“I feel like my freshman and sophomore season it wasn’t really expected for Meadowdale to do this,” Shrum said. “But now that’s our goal every year. It’s just so awesome.”
Having the expectation of advancing to state was an adjustment for Shrum and her teammates. The pressure, if there is any, comes from within the team.
“We don’t think about it as ‘Oh, we have to do this goal,’” Shrum said. “This is what our team wants to do. We don’t care what other people think, but as a team we know we can do this.”
Meadowdale faces Mount Si in a first-round state tournament match at 9:45 p.m., Nov. 11 at Saint Martin’s University in Lacey.
The Mavericks are aiming to come home with a trophy for the first time.
To accomplish that goal, Meadowdale needs to show a little more consistency than was evident against Lynnwood, said Meadowdale head coach Machen Shrum.
“Once you get to state, the level of play is consistently higher than what we have in our league,” said coach Shrum, who is the mother of Payton. “For us it is going to have to be consistency. It’s kind of what we’ve been talking about the last three weeks.”
By consistency, coach Shrum doesn’t mean that every player has to be hitting perfectly.
“But everybody needs to find an area of the game on that particular day to be on,” coach Shrum said. “If you’re not hitting well, then you need to be on on defense or you need to be on emotionally. If you’re not passing well, you need to be serving or communicating with your teammates.
“It seems to be that at state the teams that win are the teams that are consistent and it doesn’t even have to be they’re up crushing the ball all the time.”
In the district championship match, Meadowdale appeared to come out flat against a fired-up Lynnwood squad.
“They were just putting the ball on the court and really mixed up the shots and keeping the ball in,” senior Lindsey Milner said.
Coach Shrum saw her players struggling.
“We didn’t pass well like we have been,” she said. “We made a lot of hitting mistakes throughout that we haven’t been doing the past four or five matches, which obviously was a problem for us. Lynnwood played really outstanding defense.”
The Mavericks seemed to rally toward the end of the first game and that momentum carried through to game two, which the Mavericks won.
“The next game we started to see ourselves and what we have been doing in practice and matches,” coach Shrum said. “The confidence started to grow.”
Lynnwood bounced back to win the third game before Meadowdale knotted the score 2-2 with a win in game four. Senior hitter Emily Denham was instrumental in the game four rally.
“She has been kind of quiet throughout the match,” coach Shrum said. “There was a point we just looked at her. ‘We have to have you. We need you to be more aggressive and I need you to take some chances’ and she stepped up.”
Denham finished with 12 kills and 23 digs. Milner recorded 17 kills and 32 digs, while Payton Shrum had 44 assists and 24 digs.
Meadowdale swept Lynnwood in the teams’ two previous meetings.
“I don’t think they thought it would be (that tough),” Lynnwood coach Jean Kellogg said. “They are used to beating us.”
Before the start of the fifth and deciding game, coach Shrum talked with her assistant coaches and told them she really did not want to have to face Glacier Peak again in what would be a winner-to-state/loser-out match. Coach Shrum decided that she didn’t really need to discuss the matter with the players.
“They knew it,” she said. “They had pride in the fact that they knew they are a better team and they needed to show that.”
Lynnwood won the first two games against Glacier Peak but then could not win a third game and ended up losing 23-25, 23-25, 25-17, 25-23, 15-10 as the Grizzlies earned their first trip to the state tournament.
Herald writer Jon Saperstein contributed to this story.