Goldendale spikers win one, just miss placing in first trip to state since 2008
November 15, 2017
There weren't very many people who thought the Timberwolves would make it out of the district tournament and advance to state as the West's No. 4 seed, but when they did, the thrill of victory, and the lessons the team picked up along the way, were much sweeter.
"It meant so much to me to see the kids accomplish their goals and it wasn't easy," Goldendale head coach Jodi Bellamy said. "When you stay the course and you stay tough when things don't go your way and when you lean on each other and have each other's back and achieve something that's hard, it means so much more and I think the lessons are so much more valuable."
Each year, Bellamy and the team tabs reaching state as one of the top team goals, and after fighting through a lot of adversity and a lot of exciting, thrilling matches, the team returned to the SunDome for the state tournament for the first time since 2008.
Although the Timberwolves weren't satisfied with just reaching state. They stormed out of the gate in the tournament's opening round, sweeping Bellevue Christian, needing just one more win to place no lower than eighth.
But the Timberwolves ran into a very tough Lynden Christian squad and were swept in the second round, and then fell in four sets to Castle Rock after winning the first set.
The top 16 teams from around the state reach the double-elimination tournament.
The Timberwolves were more than ready for the opening round contest against the Bellevue Christian Vikings, jumping all over them for the three-set (25-15, 25-18, and 25-21) win.
Aside from a BC ace that swiped the top of the net and took a weird bounce to the floor on the first serve of the game to give the Vikings a 1-0 lead, Goldendale never trailed in the opening set.
They also were able to get a few blocks on BC's 6-foot-1 middle blocker Molly Olson. The Vikings had trouble through all three sets dealing with Goldendale's big hitters with balanced efforts from everyone.
The Timberwolves fell behind 1-5 early in the second set, only to tie it up at 5 moments later. They took the lead for good at 12-11 after freshman Taylor Rising's ace and scored the final four points of the set for the 25-18 win.
Seniors Reanna Holycross and Kylee Beam both served late in the third set with the Timberwolves completing the sweep with the 25-21 set win.
Senior Allison Gilliam also received the team sportsmanship medallion, which were awarded to one player from each team after each game.
Goldendale was bumped into the loser's bracket after facing a tough Lynden Christian team that went on to finish third place.
Sierra Plum was Goldendale's recipient of the sportsmanship medallion for the match.
Combined stats from the first two games:
Sierra Plum 38 assists, nine digs, three kills; Abby Mains 17 kills, five blocks; Allison Gilliam 15-15 serving, three aces, 10 perfect passes, 16 digs, seven kills; Tori Tallman 17-18 serving, two aces, three kills, three digs, one block; Delaney Peters 4-4 serving, one ace, one kill; Talia Johnson 14-15 serving, two aces, 16 digs, 35 perfect passes, two kills; Alyssa Weis 24-25 serving, 16 perfect passes, 16 digs, seven kills; Taylor Rising 10 kills, seven digs, 11-13 serving, two aces; Kylee Beam three perfect passes, one dig; Reanna Holycross two digs.
The Timberwolves trailed just once (1-2) in the opening set against Castle Rock, leading by as many as six points (23-17) in the first set win over the Rockets. However, the Rockets rallied to win the final three sets for the four-set win (25-20, 11-25, 20-25, and 20-25) to stay alive in the tourney.
A tough hitting second set, and strong finishes from the Rockets late in each the third and fourth sets sent Goldendale home just shy of placing.
Castle Rock went on to face Kiona-Benton in the fifth/sixth place game, falling in five sets.
Holycross was awarded the sportsmanship medallion for this game.
Castle Rock game stats:
Sierra Plum 39 assists, two kills, 20 digs, 20-21 serving, tw aces; Abby Mains 25 kills, four digs; Allison Gilliam 14-14 serving, 17 perfect passes, 13 digs, three kills, four blocks; Talia Johnson 11-11 serving, 26 perfect passes, 26 digs; Alyssa Weis six kills, 19 perfect passes, 18 digs, 11-11 serving; Taylor Rising 12-12 serving, six perfect passes, five digs, five kills; Tori Tallman six kills, six digs, one block; Delaney Peters one kill, one dig.
Determined at districts
It had been nine years since the Wolves advanced to the state tournament, but for this year's crop of six tough, hardworking seniors to go out on top after being so close to state in each the previous two years, was amazing for Bellamy.
"To see them achieve that when it was hard, it just means the world to me," Bellamy said.
At the district tournament in 2015 and 2016, the Timberwolves lost in the third place/fourth place match, which sent the winner to state while ending the other team's season.
This year the Wolves left no doubt at districts, winning their first two games at the tourney to guarantee one of the conference's three bids to state with the berth in the league championship game.
The road to state definitely wasn't easy for the Timberwolves, who faced an uphill battle throughout the district tournament.
"Underdogs" in every game at districts as the South Central Athletic Conference West's No. 4 seed, the Timberwolves players and coaches didn't see themselves as the fourth best team on the west side, however that's just how things fell into place after a turbulent middle of the season.
They defeated the East's No. 1 seed Kiona Benton in a tough and exciting five-set match on Halloween and used a flurry of kills late from Mains against La Salle Nov. 4 to win in four sets after trailing 22-14 in the fourth set.
Mains put the finishing touches on the sweet win against La Salle, which not only put the Wolves in the championship game, but dropped the Lightning into the loser's bracket, where they later were eliminated after falling to Ki-Be in the third/fourth place game.
Goldendale then took the opening set from the Rangers in the championship match, but the Rangers rallied for the 3-1 win to finish as league champions.
This year's crop of six seniors – Gilliam, Plum, Holycross, Beam, Mains, and Johnson, – will especially be missed.
The special group had spent countless hours on the court year after year with each other, sharpening their skills and developing the chemistry together.
"They love the game and they understood when we tell them 'You need to put the time in.' They've understood that and they've done that," Bellamy said.
It wasn't just on the court that the senior class helped the team grow. They've also been big leaders by example to an extra-large freshman class this year.
"Our goal is when we have freshmen come in to be able to say 'OK, if you need to know how to act or you want to know how we roll around here, then you look at those seniors,'" Bellamy said.
"I could generally say that this year for these kids," she added. "They're an excellent example of teamwork, teammates, and just being all about the team first. They really did a good job of that. We're really going to miss them."
Leading by example
Nearly a decade since the team last made the state tournament, there weren't any upper classmen on the team with previous state experience to help prepare the rest of the team.
However, two of the team's assistant coaches, Tiffany Ferch and Kylee Barnes, have seven years of state tournament experience as players under their belts and passed along their knowledge to the group of girls making their debuts in the SunDome.
"They were really telling them 'Take it all in and enjoy every bit of it,' and I think that the kids did," Bellamy said. "We got to go out to a nice dinner, have a limo ride, and stay at a nice hotel."
"They loved it," she added. "They loved every minute of it."
● Naches Valley placed seventh after dropping its opening game against Chelan before winning its final three against South Whidbey, La Center, and Freeman.
● Kiona Benton finished fifth after winning its opening round game against Overlake, falling to Cascade, and beating Charles Wright and Castle Rock.
● Prior to sweeping Bellevue Christian in its state opener, Goldendale was 1-1 against the Vikings at state with a 3-1 win in the opening round of the 2004 tournament and a 3-2 loss in the final round of the 2003 tournament.
● With Friday's win over the Timberwolves, Lynden Christian evened its state tournament record with the Timberwolves at two games apiece. Goldendale beat the Lyncs 2-0 in 1992 and 3-1 in the final round to finish fifth in 2007. The Lyncs won 3-0 to eliminate Goldendale from the 2006 tournament.
● Castle Rock also brought its state record to 2-2 against the Timberwolves with Saturday's win. Goldendale beat the Rockets 2-0 in both the 1992 and 99 tournaments, but fell 3-0 in the opening round of the 2006 tournament.
● The Timberwolves were making their 13th trip to state in school history and seventh trip under Bellamy's guidance.