YAKIMA — The Lake Stevens High School volleyball team had already clinched its best finish in program history heading into Saturday’s Class 4A state championship match, but one more win in the Yakima Valley SunDome would have been quite the statement for a team with only one senior.
Ultimately, the Vikings came up short.
Lake Stevens took the first set, but came out of the gates slow in the next three before falling just short of comeback bids in each set as the Vikings fell 21-25, 25-21, 25-22, 28-26 to Tahoma in the state championship match.
“They battled till the very end, they didn’t give up,” Lake Stevens coach Kyle Hoglund said. … “They play together, they play for each other. Unfortunately, one team doesn’t get to win today. It’s hard.”
The second-place finish is the best in program history for Lake Stevens (19-2), which was making its fourth straight appearance at state.
The Bears (23-1) earned their first-ever state championship.
Lake Stevens called timeout after falling behind 7-2 in the first set. The Vikings came out of the break strong, scoring the next six points. Tahoma answered with a four-point run of its own to make it 11-8 Bears before eventually extending their lead to 18-14.
That’s when Lake Stevens made an impressive run to close out the first set. The Vikings scored 11 of the next 14 points, capped by Sierra Simpson’s set-winning ace for a 25-21 victory in the opening frame.
Tahoma answered back with a strong start to the second set. The Bears raced out to a 5-1 lead and eventually went up 18-12 before Lake Stevens started to mount a comeback. The Vikings scored nine of the next 12 points to tie it at 21, but the Bears answered with their own four-point rally to take the second set 25-21.
After a back-and-forth start to the third set, Tahoma used a six-point run to grab a 10-5 lead. Lake Stevens battled back to cut its deficit to 19-18, but was unable to complete its comeback and the Bears took the set, 25-22.
In the fourth set, the Vikings again fell behind early and needed to continue to show the resilience they displayed in the match’s first three sets to keep their championship hopes alive.
After falling behind 19-14, Lake Stevens started to make its run. The Vikings scored five of the next six points to pull within one point at 20-19, but Tahoma answered with a four-point run to set up match point with a 24-19 lead. Lake Stevens wouldn’t go away quietly, though, and the Vikings answered by scoring five straight points with their season on the line to tie it at 24-all.
Tahoma scored the next point to take a 25-24 lead, and Lake Stevens responded by winning the next two points for a 26-25 advantage and its first lead of the set. But that’s the last time the Vikings would score, and the Bears closed out the win with three straight points for the 28-26 fourth-set victory.
“They just gotta grow from it, right?” Hoglund said. “… We just keep trying to grow every time (out). The resiliency is there. They had the right mindset about it all. It’s just a few more executions and we’re in it.”
The Vikings are set to return 13 of 14 players from their runner-up finish, and Hoglund said his players will be hungry to get back and avenge their title-game loss next season.
“They want it bad,” he said. “So it’ll drive them a little bit and we’ll keep pushing forward.”