Bellarmine bounces Wolves from state volleyball tourney

They were pleased just to be there, advancing to the second weekend of competition.

But South volleyball was eliminated from the Class 4A West Central District III volleyball tournament Saturday, falling against Bellarmine Prep 25-8, 25-15, 25-19 in a loser-out match to finally end a surprising postseason run.

“It hurts that we lost, it’s a bummer,” said senior setter Cortney Echternach, who led South with 10 assists. “But it’s going to happen sooner or later. We had a great season coming into this.”

The Wolves (9-11) advanced by virtue of a two-game split Nov. 7 when they rebounded from an opening round loss against Rogers of Puyallup to upset league rival Stadium in a consolation match, 25-16, 25-22, 18-25, 25-23.

“The Stadium win got us here,” South coach Jessica Anderson said. “We’re pretty excited that we made it to the second round.”

Bellarmine, however, simply overpowered the Wolves behind eight kills and eight digs from senior outside hitter Marlayna Geary, who dominated the net against a smaller Wolves front line.

“Their hits are hard every single time and we had some trouble with that,” Echternach said.

But South showed moxie late in the third game after losing the first two games handily and falling behind again, 24-14. With Bellermine sitting on match point after match point, the Wolves crawled within 24-19 before finally bowing out.

“We had a comeback in the last game, but it just wasn’t enough to get us through,” Echternach said. “We thought we’d take it far, but we came further than we thought we would.”

Echternach, Stephanie Osterdahl, Sarah Voigt and Angel Sheldon, who had five kills, graduate in the spring. But South returns a healthy portion of the roster, which Anderson said she believes should pay off next season.

“For the older (players), it’s just kind of a tough break,” she said. “For the younger ones, it’s a big learning experience. It’s really exciting for us to be here because we’ve taken juniors and we’ve taken sophomores ... (now) they understand what it’s like to go into postseason -- three extra weeks of play and practice when everybody else has ended.”

And Bellarmine, which beat Kentlake later that day to advance to the state tournament, entered Saturday’s match with significantly more postseason experience, having 11 players who also qualified for state in 2007.

Anderson felt that experience gave the Lions a significant advantage.

“One thing Bellarmine’s got that we don’t have is they’ve been here before, we’ve never been to the second round of districts,” Anderson said. “Just that mindset, it’s different for us because we don’t know what it’s like to actually be here in this situation.”

But both Anderson and the players came away from districts grateful to have been there and hopeful for next season, choosing to focus on the experience gained rather than the end result.

“We’re just happy to have been able to play at this point,” Echternach said. “I don’t think it’s as much of a bummer, because we’re happy with how far we went.”

Osterdahl, a middle blocker, added six kills for the Wolves.

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