MARYSVILLE — First-year coach Bart Foley raised the expectations and standards for Meadowdale High School volleyball.
His players rose to the occasion and met the challenge.
And now, the Mavericks are headed to state for the first time since 2013.
Second-seeded Meadowdale clinched its first state berth in nine years with a 25-21, 25-14, 25-16 sweep of third-seeded Monroe in a Class 3A District 1 Tournament semifinal Thursday night at Marysville Pilchuck High School.
“I’m really proud of the girls,” Foley said. “We just immediately set really high standards, … and so there were a little growing pains early. But they did everything to earn the right to be proud and confident in this moment right here.
“They owned it tonight,” he added. “They didn’t need anything from the coaches tonight, because the work had already been put in.”
The Mavericks (16-3) controlled the match from start to finish, winning a competitive first set and then dominating the final two frames.
After the match-winning point, Meadowdale players converged for a frenzied celebration in front of the net.
“I don’t think I’ve ever felt anything like this,” Mavericks senior Aubrey Congdon said. “This is the happiest I’ve ever been (after) a match. It’s everything I expected it to be. I dreamed about this moment. And I’m so glad that we have the coaches and team to really encourage us and to take us there.”
Foley took over Meadowdale’s program this year after a success-filled 13 seasons with King’s, where he was part of three 1A state titles as a head coach and assistant.
Despite the Mavericks having gone nearly a decade without reaching state, Foley immediately set the bar high. On a whiteboard he uses at practice, he includes a small box that counts down the number of days until the state tournament.
“I think (he) really helped us believe that we can reach those expectations and our goals in the way he coaches,” Meadowdale senior Stephanie Grimes said. “And we have.”
Early on, there was a bit of an adjustment period as Foley taught some new techniques. But since losing their first two matches of the season to Lake Washington and Monroe, the Mavericks have won 16 of their past 17.
And on Thursday, they avenged their early-season defeat to Monroe (13-5) in dominant fashion.
“We’ve grown a ton,” Foley said. “And I think this was maybe one of our most complete matches of the season.”
Meadowdale senior outside hitter Tanna Kollen had a strong all-around performance with 11 kills, three aces and seven digs. Junior outside hitter Laiken Thoesen added eight kills and fellow junior Mia Johns had seven kills. Grimes totaled three aces and 14 digs, while Congdon provided 30 assists.
“Our first-ball contact was excellent,” Foley said. “We were digging the ball and passing the ball off the net. And when you do that, you give yourself a chance to have a good attack. And we were pretty relentless with our attacks. … I thought we just wore them down at the end.”
With the victory, the Mavericks advanced to Saturday’s district championship match. They will face top-seeded Snohomish, which outlasted fifth-seeded Ferndale in the other semifinal. It’ll be Meadowdale’s first district championship appearance since 2011.
Monroe fell to the district consolation bracket, where it will face fourth-seeded Lynnwood in a winner-to-state match on Saturday. The loser of that match will play afterward in a winner-to-state, loser-out contest against either Ferndale or sixth-seeded Arlington.
The 3A state tournament is Nov. 17-18 in Yakima.
And after counting down to those dates all season on their whiteboard, the Mavericks are now officially headed there.
“I’m proud of where we’ve come and what we did to get here,” Congdon said. “We deserve it. We really do.
“It’s awesome being a part of this team,” she added. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
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