BOTHELL — The Lake Stevens volleyball team had only played one game all season that went more than four sets, but that didn’t phase the Vikings in a five-set battle against Issaquah with a state tournament berth on the line.
The Vikings had their backs against the wall multiple times in the fifth set — fending off four game-point opportunities for the Eagles — sophomore Samaya Morin delivered dominate stretches on the court and Lake Stevens came away with a 25-14, 24-26, 25-14, 25-27, 21-19 victory and a third straight berth to the Class 4A state tournament.
“I was so happy,” said Morin, an outside hitter. “It was honestly the best feeling in the world just knowing that we’re going to state again and that we can really accomplish anything we want to do when we work together.”
Incredible effort by both teams in the fifth set. Lake Stevens takes it 21-19. Vikings are state-bound. pic.twitter.com/5yVTDWohWe
— Zac Hereth (@ZacHereth) November 7, 2018
Lake Stevens (15-1) started the game in dominant fashion, sprinting out to an 8-0 lead and running away with a first set that was marred by errors by Issaquah (16-3).
“It’s really huge,” Vikings coach Kyle Hoglund said of the fast start. “We talked about who(ever) can calm down their nerves the fastest and get focused in was who’s going to win this match.”
But things wouldn’t come as easy in the second set.
The Eagles cleaned up their game and Lake Stevens started to make the same unforced mistakes that plagued Issaquah early.
“We definitely made a lot of errors,” Morin said. “We didn’t play our best (game). I know that if we did we could’ve came out a little bit stronger.”
The Eagles took the second set and carried that momentum over into the third as they took a 10-8 lead. Then, the Vikings called a timeout and Morin delivered back-to-back kills out of the break that helped spark a 10-1 run and an eventual set win.
“We started to communicate a lot more,” Morin said. “With our team especially, when we communicate everything just kind of flows and we play as a family and as one.”
Lake Stevens kept its foot on the gas pedal and looked ready to run away with a victory in the fourth set, but Issaquah rallied late, used its size advantage up front to lockdown the Vikings’ outside hitters and took advantage of 14 unforced errors to pull the match even at 2-2.
“That’s the tallest team we’ve probably faced,” Lake Stevens senior outside hitter Grace Schroedl said. “We had to learn how to get around that.”
Both teams went back and forth in the fifth set, but unforced errors came back to haunt Issaquah. The Eagles gave away six crucial points in the final set, and Lake Stevens needed every point as they prevailed in a nail-biter.
“Deep down we all really wanted this. We’ve all talked about how we want to go to state. That was our goal this year,” Schroedl said. “It definitely is cool to have three years in a row of making state and to (leave) a legacy behind us.”
Lake Stevens will face the winner of Monroe in a bi-district championship match at 3 p.m. on Saturday at Bothell High School.