Crusaders earn bid to Class B state volleyball tournament

  • Charlie Laughtland<br>Enterprise writer
  • Thursday, February 28, 2008 10:26am

Shoreline Christian’s grit and mental toughness were put to the test time and again at last week’s Tri-district volleyball tournament.

Partially driven by last year’s postseason misfortune, the Crusaders embraced the challenge and clinched their first trip to the Class B state championships in four years.

Shoreline Christian (13-4 overall) faces fifth-ranked Pomeroy in first-round action this morning at the 16-team, double-elimination tournament at the Yakima SunDome.

“This season has been incredible,” Crusaders coach Glenn Hoogerhyde said.

In an all-Northwest B League championship match, Darrington swept Shoreline Christian 25-19, 25-14, 25-14 Nov. 8 at Seattle Christian High School to earn its third straight Tri-district crown.

Three of Shoreline Christian’s losses this season have come to the third-ranked Loggers, who swept the season series en route to claiming the league title.

At Tri-disricts, the Crusaders had expended most of their energy in an exhausting, five-game semifinal victory over North Olympic League champion Crescent a couple hours before the title match.

“For the most part the kids looked tired and emotionally drained,” Hoogerhyde said.

Shoreline Christian and Crescent took turns directing the action in their winner-to-state contest, but the Crusaders eventually prevailed 25-20, 9-25, 27-25, 20-25, 15-10.

Undefeated in five-game matches this season, Shoreline Christian never trailed in the tiebreaker. Crescent managed to even the score at 10 before the Crusaders rattled off the final five points in a row.

“When we got to game five, it was the most relaxed I’d been the entire match,” Hoogerhyde said. “The girls don’t get tentative. They play like it’s the first game, like it’s 0-0. If they’re nervous, they don’t show it.”

The Crusaders were even sharper in a 25-15, 27-25, 25-12 opening-round victory over Kent View Christian Nov. 7 at Snohomish County Christian School.

“We played our best all-around match of the year against Kent View. We were on fire defensively and everything picked up from there,” Hoogerhyde said.

“I’ve been very impressed with the mental strength of the girls. They never gave up or let down.”

Shoreline Christian’s patience and persistence have been surpassed only by its ball control and versatility.

“Every girl is willing to set a ball,” Hoogerhyde said. “I haven’t seen another team all year do that as well as we do.”

The Crusaders dropped a pair of winner-to-state matches at last season’s Tri-district tournament, including a narrow defeat in the consolation finals.

“The memory of that loss is still there, coming so close,” said Hoogerhyde, who was voted the Northwest B League’s 2003 coach of the year.

Strong senior leadership has also motivated this year’s group. Hoogerhyde praised fourth-year letterwinners Cristina Nelson and Heather Waller and second-year returner Rachel Visser for setting the tone.

“We’re going to state because of their work ethic,” he said. “They’ve watched us come a step or two short in the past, so it’s especially nice for them we made it.”

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