LAKE STEVENS — Kamiak appeared to have complete control of the match after winning the first two sets, including a comfortable nine-point victory in the second frame.
But the Lake Stevens volleyball team responded with a stunning comeback to hand the Knights another heartbreaking loss.
The Vikings rallied to remain unbeaten with a 22-25, 16-25, 25-22, 25-13, 15-12 victory over Kamiak in a pivotal Wesco 4A showdown Tuesday night at Lake Stevens High School.
“I kind of was like, ‘Did we really just do that?’” Lake Stevens senior outside hitter Hannah Aaenson said of her reaction after completing the remarkable comeback. “It was really hard to believe.”
The victory gives defending conference champion Lake Stevens (9-0 overall, 9-0 Wesco 4A) a commanding two-game lead over Kamiak in the league standings.
The Knights (7-2, 7-2) also suffered a crushing five-set loss to Lake Stevens on Sept. 14, when the Vikings rallied from a 2-1 match deficit to win the final two sets.
Kamiak is the only team to take Lake Stevens to five sets this season. But both times, the Vikings emerged victorious.
“It’s a testimony to our team, how they play and just their fight to never give up,” Lake Stevens coach Kyle Hoglund said.
“From day one with this team, they never give up. They fight for every point, they don’t give up and they want to do nothing but win. And that’s a great testimony to them.”
The heavyweight showdown of top Wesco 4A squads lived up to the billing, as both teams made spectacular saves throughout the match that led to some thrilling rallies.
After winning a closely contested opening set, Kamiak rolled to a 19-8 advantage in the second frame on its way to a commanding 2-0 match lead.
But the Vikings came out firing in the third set, leading for nearly the entire frame on their way to a 25-22 win.
“They really started to believe in themselves, understand themselves and just played like they had nothing to lose,” Hoglund said. “And they went for it.”
Lake Stevens then raced to a 13-3 lead in the fourth set, aided by some Kamiak miscues as the pressure began to mount for the Knights. The Vikings went on to win the frame 25-13, forcing a deciding fifth set.
The final frame was a thrilling back-and-forth affair, as the teams traded points for most of the set.
Lake Stevens junior Kendall Solis broke the back-and-forth string of points with a key ace that gave the Vikings a 13-11 lead.
Kamiak won the ensuing point to cut the deficit to 13-12, but Lake Stevens answered with two consecutive points to complete the stunning comeback.
“It was really just a mental shift, because the first two games we were really playing flat and defeated,” Aaenson said. “And we kind of came out in the third set and were like, ‘Hey, let’s go. We have nothing to lose. Right now we’re just going to push and lay it all out on the court.’
“And I think we really did that tonight.”
After a mishit by the Knights hit the ground for the match’s final point, the Vikings’ bench poured onto the court as the Lake Stevens team converged for an ecstatic celebration.
“It’s one of the best moments in any sport when you feel like you just accomplished something that everyone thought you couldn’t do,” Aaenson said of her team’s comeback victory.
Aaenson led Lake Stevens with 19 kills and 10 digs. Junior outside hitter Grace Schroedl added 15 kills and senior defensive specialist Payton Ludwig had eight digs for the Vikings, who have won 23 consecutive Wesco 4A matches.
Junior middle hitter Quinci Flowers led Kamiak with 11 kills, five blocks and an ace. Sloane Spencer, a senior, added eight kills and three blocks for the Knights.