Fun was had, goals were met, and much energy was spent by the GHS Volleyball team at the WIAA State Class 1A in Yakima this past weekend. Qualifying for the state tournament is quite an accomplishment, with 65 teams in the 1A division and just 16 earning a trip to the big dance. The last time Timberwolf Volleyball earned a trophy was in 2008. This year's team had goals to begin their own streak of tournament trophies earned.

The 16-team tournament was held Friday and Saturday at the Yakima Sundome, with many fans attending in their tried-and-true purple and gold. After a raucous sendoff with fans and fire trucks, the girls were on their way! A 5:45 start on Friday evening set the Timberwolves playing a tough match with perennial power Lakeside (9 Mile Falls). Losing the first two sets with scores of 13 and 18, the Wolves gave the Eagles more of a challenge in the third set, putting 20 points on the board. Alyssa Weis and Sara Hiebert led with 10 kills each, while Rachel Gallagher registered 3 aces and 21 assists. (Lakeside went on to finish 3rd overall.) The Timberwolves played well against this tough opponent and were encouraged to feel good about their play, even though it was not the outcome they had hoped for. The loss sent the girls to the consolation bracket, and they only had an hour and a half to prepare for the next round and opponent Bellevue Christian.

Bellevue Christian was a more familiar foe, as the Timberwolves defeated them in the 2017 State tournament in convincing fashion. The girls came out swinging hard and won the first two sets with scores of 25-13 and 25-19. They had to work a little harder in the 3rd set to assure the victory, going to extra points, but securing the victory with a 27-25 win. The balanced attack of the Timberwolves proved to be too much for the Vikings. Delaney Peters turned in her best match of the season with 10 kills. Hiebert and Weis also contributed 10 kills each. Olivia Erland and Rachel Gallagher combined for 9 aces, and Taylor Rising had 17 perfect passes and 9 kills to help in the victory.

With the victory over BC, the Timberwolves were assured of another match the next morning. Castle Rock, for the second time in three years, would be the opponent in the loser out/winner to the trophy round match. Weis, Peters, Rising, and Erland could all remember the sting of being bounced from the tournament two years ago and were not going to let that happen again. The match turned out to be an epic battle that will not soon be forgotten.

The Rockets qualify for the state tournament most every year and have a great tradition of bringing home trophies. They came out strong with their middle attack and won the first set 25-23, surviving a late rally by the Timberwolves. With the momentum turning their direction, the T-Wolves showed the grit and determination they have displayed all season and played really good volleyball to win the next two sets 25-17 and 25-20. The 4th set had its lead changes, and the Rockets were not going to let the victory go without a fight. Taking the 4th set 26-24, the stage was set for a 5th set finale. Midway through the set, Castle Rock seemed to have things in control, but the Timberwolves had plenty of fight left. Tough serving by Rachel Gallagher forced the Rockets out of system, and timely kills by Weis and Rising halted the Rocket momentum. Erland and Kennedy Berry played some great defense digging the CR hitters, allowing Gallagher to get the ball to Hiebert for the final kills in the 15-11 victory!

That victory sent the Timberwolves to a 7th/8th place match up against a very scrappy King's Way Christian Knights (Vancouver) team. After the five-game battle with Castle Rock, the Timberwolves just couldn't seem to put any runs together. Plaguing the team were many unforced serve receive and attack errors that made it really tough to score points. The Timberwolves fought as hard as they could in the challenging situation. The tourney ended with a three-set loss with scores of 20-25, 20-25, 21-25.

Being awarded the 8th place trophy and the first in 11 years helped soothe the pain of the loss. Coaches, fans, and families were treated to awesome teamwork and heart-pumping competition over the season, and they showed lots of appreciation and admiration for the team as their season came to a close at the Sundome. Playing in the State Tournament, where the best of the best go, is no easy feat-it's more of a 20-hour slugfest of determination, heart, and guts that is not for the faint of heart. Our city has much to be proud of in this 2019 Timberwolf Volleyball Team!

Over the course of the tournament, Weis, Peters, and Hiebert were awarded Sportsmanship Medals by officials involved in each match.

The Timberwolves end the season with a 18-4 overall record, sending Seniors Allyssa Weis and Delaney Peters out in a blaze of glory. Only nine months to the start of a new season!

Total Stats for the State Tournament:

Alyssa Weis 4 aces 68 PP 64 Digs 52 Kills 4 stuff Blocks

Taylor Rising 61 PP 6 assists 53 Digs 22 Kills

Olivia Erland 53-53 Serving 9 aces 19 PP 63 Digs 8 kills

Rachel Gallagher 16 aces 69 digs 124 Assists 18 Kills 9 Stuff Blocks

Delaney Peters 5 aces 53-56 Serving 16 Kills

Kennedy Berry 33-34 Serving 42 Perfect passes 52 digs

Sara Hiebert 68 kills 15 Stuff Blocks hitting % .487

Taylor Fahlenkamp 1 PP 1 dig

Gwen Gilliam 1 ace 2 PP 5 digs

Natalie Schroder 1 dig

Kinley Mitchell and Emma Olson were battling illness throughout the tournament.

-Jodi Bellamy