Lynden High School volleyball coach Chris Elsner couldn’t stop smiling, even when the tears welled up in her eyes. “It was a great journey the whole season,” Elsner said, “and I feel like we just got better each match.”
The Lions put on a spectacular performance at the Class 2A state volleyball tournament, advancing to the championship match where they lost to powerhouse Burlington-Edison, 25-12, 27-25, 21-25, 25-19, in four sets in an all-Northwest Conference finals at Saint Martin’s University in Lacey on November 11.
The runner-up finish equals the 1999 Lions squad as the highest placing ever at the state tournament for the program, which was making its first state appearance since 2013.
Led by seniors Abi Broussard, Isabelle Jacob and Noelle Price, Lynden finished the year with a record of 16-6, earning its eighth state trophy.
“They were the glue,” Elsner said about her three seniors. “They were so consistent, so strong all year. They came to practice every day and provided the leadership we needed.”
The Lions’ roster also featured juniors Kyla Bonsen and Lauren Groen, sophomores Kelsey Debruin, Kennedy House, Robin Scarlett and Savonne Sterk, and freshmen Faith Barr and Anna VanderYacht, making Lynden one of the youngest teams to participate at the tournament.
“We’re very young. We have a couple sophomores and freshmen who play a lot,” Elsner said. “The experience they received here will definitely help us over the next few years.”
The win gives the Tigers (20-1) their fourth state title since 2011 and sixth overall for the program, which has certainly become the measuring stick for the rest of the 2A teams in the state over the last eight seasons.
The Tigers made things look rather easy in the opening set, hammering Lynden, 25-12.
Burlington-Edison, which swept the Lions during the regular season and at the district tournament, raced out to a quick 6-1 lead in the second set, and while it appeared the Tigers were going to cruise to their third consecutive 3-0 dismantling of Lynden on their way to another state crown, the Lions battled back, eventually tying the set up at 25 before losing 27-25.
Trailing 21-20 in the third set, Lynden rallied again. This time, however, coming away with the victory as they scored the set’s final five points, getting a huge kill from Barr and a set-ending ace from Jacob.
In the end, the Tigers’ athleticism and experience – the team had placed sixth or better in each of the last seven tournaments – proved to be too much to overcome as they put away the match and secured yet another championship with a 25-19 win in the fourth set.
Jacob had 11 kills against the Tigers, pushing her final tournament total to a 51 over the four matches. Bonsen added 42 assists, her fourth match where she registered 40 or more assists.
Lynden punched its ticket to the championship round by sweeping Ridgefield in the semifinals, 25-20, 25-17, 25-21.
Bonsen directed the Lions’ offensive, dishing out 41 assists, while adding 10 digs. Sterk registered a match-high 11 kills, while Jacob chipped in 10 kills and 18 digs in the victory over the Spudders.
Jacob led an extremely effective Lynden attack in the quarterfinals against Pullman, posting 18 kills and 15 digs to help the Lions knock off the Greyhounds, who defeated defending state champion Tumwater in straight sets in the opening round, in four games (25-9, 25-23, 22-25, 25-17).
Broussard joined Jacob with double-digit kills against Pullman, adding 12 kills. Bonsen finished with 47 assists.
Lynden opened its run towards the finals by defeating North Kitsap, 3-0, in the first round, winning 25-14, 25-21, 25-20. Jacob had 12 kills, Bonsen handed up 42 assists and Scarlett led the squad with 13 digs as the Lions made quick work of the Vikings.
Sehome Takes Home Sixth Place
Sehome, which opened the season 1-4 and lost its final three regular season matches to take a 5-10 record into the postseason, became the surprise story of the 2A tournament as the Mariners secured sixth place following their remarkable run.
Sehome (10-13) edged Pullman in five sets (18-25, 25-17, 25-21, 16-25, 15-7) in a loser-out contest to advance to the trophy round. Sophomore Cameron Hodges finished with 13 kills and 28 digs and senior Haley Wilson had 45 assists against the Greyhounds.
The Mariners also received 12 kills from freshman Aspen Garrison and 26 digs from junior Lexi McGowan.
In the placing round, Sehome played its second five set thriller on the day, but came up short against Fife (25-16, 26-28, 25-27, 25-18, 15-9).