The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Jaryd Cline
Sports editor 

Timberwolves on to state for first time since 2008

 

November 8, 2017

Jaryd Cline

The Timberwolves celebrate in Kiona Benton on Oct. 31 after holding off the Bears in an epic five-set match to open the district tournament.

Every season, head coach Jodi Bellamy and the rest of the Goldendale spikers have their eyes set on reaching the state tournament and continuing the season among the state's very best.

And boy have they come very close in recent years, finishing fourth place in the district tournament a handful of times in recent years when the South Central Athletic Conference only takes its top three finishing teams to state.

Competing in the district tournament last Tuesday in Kiona Benton and on Saturday in Granger, Goldendale left absolutely no doubt this year, winning its first two games and advancing to the district championship game and snagging one of the three spots to state.

The Timberwolves ended up falling to the Naches Rangers in four sets (25-22, 16-25, 24-26, and 14-25) Saturday evening but had already punched their ticket to state regardless of the championship match outcome.

Winning the first two games of the double-elimination, eight-team SCAC tournament puts you in the championship game, automatically solidifying a spot in this weekend's state tournament. And that's exactly the route Goldendale took.

Speaking prior to last Tuesday's district tournament opener on the road in Ki-Be, Bellamy knew the easiest way into state would be to win the first two games and not have to work up through the loser's bracket. She knew her team could beat any of the other seven teams in the tournament on any given night and that the Timberwolves just had to go out and make something happen. And that's what they did.

They held off a furious comeback in last Tuesday's five-set thriller against SCAC East No. 1 seed Ki-Be, and slowed down West No. 2 seed Salle in four sets thanks to an epic fourth-set rally that pushed Goldendale into the championship game for the first time since 2008.

2008 also was the last year that the team advanced to the state tournament, finishing fifth overall while being led on the court by current assistant coach Kylee Barnes, then a senior in high school.

"It feels great," head coach Jodi Bellamy said. "I'm just so happy for the kids and overcoming the midseason adversity.

"We had our backs against the wall so many times this year," she added. "I'm so proud of them for overcoming everything."

It was a long road this season for the Timberwolves, who started out red hot in league play this season by winning their first five SCAC games including victories over Naches, Granger, and La Salle, the three teams that were seeded higher than Goldendale at districts.

However, they hit a rough patch midway through the season around homecoming week, losing four straight matches while senior setter Sierra Plum missed time with an ankle injury.

But they kept grinding, finishing the regular season strong with three straight wins to finish 8-4 in league play.

However, finishing as the No. 4 seed meant they faced a tough matchup against the East's No. 1 seed, the 13-1 Kiona Benton Bears, the same team that eliminated Goldendale and seized the league's last bid to state last season.

In the most exciting and nerve racking game I've seen since I started working here, the Timberwolves jumped out to a 2-0 set lead, only to see that lead evaporate as the Bears forced a fifth set. However, the Wolves led from start to finish in the deciding set, winning 15-13 as the team went into a frenzy.

"These senior kids, that was pretty satisfying especially after last year," Bellamy said. "Last year was still salty."

Last year, the district tourney was held at Ki-Be and the Bears and Wolves met in the third/fourth place match with the winner advancing to state. Goldendale took a 2-0 set lead, only to watch the Bears win the next three and grab the state bid.

That's all a distant memory though as the Wolves prepare to play on the biggest stage at the SunDome in Yakima.

The Timberwolves meet up with the Bellevue Christian Vikings on Friday at 3:15 p.m. in the opening round of state. The Vikings, out of the Nisqually League, finished as the No. 2 team in their conference with a 6-2 league mark.

Jaryd Cline

Senior Sierra Plum sets the ball while senior Allison Gilliam watches in the background during Saturday's district championship match against Naches.

The Timberwolves then play at 6:45 p.m. Friday, but the opponent won't be known until the first round matchups are complete. They will play either Freeman or Lynden Christian.

If the team wins either, or both, of its Friday games, they will continue playing Saturday.

Naches, the SCAC champions, will play Chelan at 5:15 p.m. in its opening round game, while Ki-Be, the third place SCAC team, opens state with a matchup against Overlake at 5:15 p.m.

All League

● Sierra Plum, first team

● Abby Mains, second team

● Talia Johnson, second team

● Allison Gilliam, honorable mention

The Timberwolves also were awarded the league's sportsmanship award for the third time in the last four years.

 

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