COULEE CITY — During the 1B state basketball championships last year, Almira/Coulee-Hartline junior Gabi Isaak and senior Tiffany Boutain were a part of the Warriors team that put ACH on the map when they upended eight-time state champion Colton in the semifinals.
Crazy things happen at the state championships and nothing is a given. The No. 5-ranked Warriors (22-0) roll into the Yakima Dome on Thursday morning with the idea that some of that state tournament mojo will carry over to their unbeaten volleyball team.
The Warriors open the 1B state volleyball tournament Thursday against Firm Foundation Christian (Battle Ground). Senior Josie Pierce had 20 assists in the District 7 1B championship match on Saturday and the Warriors defeated No. 9 Selkirk (Ione) in straight sets (25-9, 25-20, 25-12) to earn the No. 1 seed coming out of District 7.
“It’s a new season (in the tournament). This is one of the best groups I’ve ever coached and we have high expectations,” Warriors coach Katie Walsh said. “We’re excited. We’re going into it playing every ball to the best of our ability. There’s benefits to scouting, but in volleyball a lot of it comes down to controlling your side of the net, then you’ll have success.”
They have good size in the middle with Ashley Mitchell (5-foot-11), Sydney Cook (5-11) and Isaak (5-10). Mitchell, who had 10 kills, three blocks and a couple of aces in the District 7 playoffs against Republic, also had a nine-kill night earlier in the season against Valley Christian. But the offense isn't just a one-man game, Walsh said.
“We really have an aggressive front. We have a lot of power hitters and it’s not always the same girl each night. We are very well founded,” she said. “A different girl will lead, which is kind of a fun dynamic. It’s not the same girl night in and night out.”
The Warriors won the 1B state championship in 2010 and that is the end game again this season, Walsh said.
“We only have two seniors this year, but we have a large junior class and we’re so experienced because of that,” she said. “We have girls that have tasted it (state tournament action). They know what it’s like to get close and not quite capture it.
“This is a mature group and I haven’t been afraid to tell them all season long they are destined for greatness. I knew they could handle that and they have the work ethic to back it up.”
The final top 5 rankings going into Thursday’s action includes, No. 1 Quilcene (19-2), No. 2 Rainier Christian (Covington) (14-3), No. 3 Puget Sound Adventist (Kirkland) (17-5), No. 4 Oakesdale (17-4) and No. 5 ACH (22-0).
Wilson Creek opens its 1B tournament in the 8 a.m. game on Thursday with Quilcene.