Eagles win 4A KingCo championship

November 10, 2009

By Bob Taylor

Rachel Roeder (left) and Alyssa Schultz drop to their knees screaming and Riley Sorenson leaps in the air as Issaquah scores their 4A KingCo conference championship-winning point Nov. 5 against Woodinville. By Greg Farrar

Rachel Roeder (left) and Alyssa Schultz drop to their knees screaming and Riley Sorenson leaps in the air as Issaquah scores their 4A KingCo conference championship-winning point Nov. 5 against Woodinville. By Greg Farrar

Entering the high school volleyball season, Issaquah coach Todd Parsons believed he had one of the top Class 4A teams in the state.

However, the Eagles didn’t get off to a promising start this season, losing their first three matches. But, as coaches often remind their players, it’s not how you start, but how you finish that really counts.

The Eagles are finishing well. Issaquah captured the 4A KingCo Conference tournament championship Nov. 5 with a 3-0 victory against Woodinville, the league’s regular-season champion, at Bothell High School.

With the victory, Issaquah advances to the 4A state tournament Nov. 12-13 as the District 2 No. 1 entry. The event is held in the Toyota Center in Kennewick. Issaquah meets Kentwood in the first round.

The Eagles lost to Kentwood 3-0 in their season opener. Issaquah then fell to Curtis, the West Central District champion, and to Mount Si, the regular-season 3A KingCo champion.

However, the Eagles were not at full strength when the season began. Junior Riley Sorenson, the Eagles’ setter the previous two years, was sidelined with an injury.

Later in the season, a variety of illnesses and injuries kept other key players out, too. Yet, Issaquah overcame its adversity and finished the regular season as one of the hottest teams in 4A KingCo.

“Adversity has kind of been the theme of this year’s team. With Riley injured from the start of the season, to other players’ injuries, to the flu and the swine flu, we have only had a complete and healthy team for the last couple weeks,” Parsons said. “It is good to see all the pieces coming together and also to see how hard these girls were willing to work on a daily basis.”

Against Woodinville, Issaquah avenged a 3-2 defeat to the Falcons earlier this season. This time, Issaquah won the games 25-22, 25-22, 25-23. The Eagles played solid defense against Woodinville, getting outstanding hitting at the net from their big gals Rachel Roeder, Alyssa Schultz, Stephanie Stoll and Sarah Hanna, and superb digging from Alexa Batquin, Sorenson and Maggie Reingold.

Issaquah trailed in the second and third games early, but fought back each time to win.

“We slowly regained our composure and tied the games up before we finished them off. These were huge lessons for our girls to learn,” Parsons said.

Roeder led the Eagles with 13 kills, and she also had 14 digs. Schultz, a senior who will sign a national letter of intent with Idaho, had 10 kills and four blocks. Stoll had a strong all-around effort with 10 kills, six blocks and three aces.

Batquin had a team-high 25 digs. Sorenson had 40 assists and 10 digs. Reingold added 10 digs, and Hanna had five kills.

“The match was huge for us. Woodinville is a very talented group,” Parsons said. “We just played at a very high level, and put great pressure on them. We made them change to our style, which is always our plan.”

Defense and improved passing were keys for the Eagles win.

“The girls have really been committed every day to becoming the best passing and defensive team they could become,” Parsons said. “It is the major difference between us from the beginning of the season to now.”

Issaquah entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed because of 3-2 losses to Woodinville and Bothell.

“Getting that No. 1 seed from our district is a big bonus,” Parsons said. “This is the first time as coach that we have ever won the title without being a No. 1 seed.

Earlier in the week, Issaquah topped Bothell 3-1 in the tournament. Against Bothell, Issaquah dropped the first game of the match 25-20, then fought back to win the next three 25-17, 25-20, 25-17.

Roeder led Issaquah with 12 kills and 11 digs. Other stellar efforts came from Batquin, who had 25 digs; Maddy Emerson, who had 10 digs; Sorenson, who contributed 48 assists; Schultz, who had a team-high 15 kills; Stoll, who added 11 kills; Reingold, who had 10 digs; and Hanna, who had seven kills.

“Against Bothell, we learned a great lesson about coming back after losing the first game and just keeping to our plan,” Parsons said. “It was definitely a great sign of mental toughness.”

Bob Taylor: 392-6434, ext. 236, or bobtaylor@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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