Eagles see growth in girls volleyball program in second-place finish at state

November 16, 2010

By Bob Taylor

Issaquah High School volleyball coach Todd Parsons won’t forget this season or this year’s team. That’s because the Eagles established some new highs for the program and also showed what hard work can accomplish.

The season didn’t have a perfect ending, but Parsons was definitely satisfied with the Eagles’ second-place finish Nov. 12 at the 4A State Tournament in Kennewick’s Toyota Center.

The Jackson Timberwolves took the title by beating Issaquah 25-13, 25-22, 25-12 in the championship match.

“Jackson was simply the best team in the state,” Parsons said. “They were the most talented, most powerful and most complete volleyball team. They pretty much had no weaknesses.

“We gave our best, but they just had so much talent and power, we could not get pressure on them for very long at a time.”

Issaquah finished the season with a 27-3 record, the best in the program’s history. It was the highest finish at state ever for Issaquah, and also the highest finish by a KingCo Conference school since Interlake placed second in 1986.

“The girls know they gave their best and that is how we judge success,” Parsons said. “Wins and losses happen, but giving your best is the measure of success. And these girls were the most successful team I have ever coached, because they gave their best more times than any other team I have coached.

“That was the secret to our state run and the high level of play they achieved,” he added.

Issaquah’s highest finish at state prior to Nov. 12 was third in the 3A tournament in 2005. The Eagles were fifth in 2006 and 2009.

En route to the state tournament, Issaquah captured the 4A KingCo Conference regular-season title and took first place in the league tournament.

The Eagles, not wanting to repeat last year’s first-round loss, opened the state tournament Nov. 11 with a 3-0 victory against Curtis. Each of the games was close as Issaquah prevailed 25-20, 25-23, 25-21. Rachel Roeder led the way with 27 kills, 16 digs and three blocks. Sarah Hanna added 15 kills, Riley Sorenson had 47 assists and Alexa Batiquin contributed 22 digs.

Issaquah then met KingCo rival Woodinville in the quarterfinals. The Eagles won 25-14, 25-23, 25-17. Roeder again had a big match with 16 kills, 14 digs and four aces. Hanna added 17 kills, Sorenson had 40 assists and four aces, and Batiquin had 11 digs.

The two victories put Issaquah into the Nov. 12 semifinals, where the Eagles defeated a talented Olympia team 3-1. Olympia won the first game 25-23, but the Eagles rallied to win the next three 25-15, 26-24, 25-22.

“Olympia was outstanding. Once again we played another team that had more talent than we had. We just gave our best every point and eventually broke their spirit,” Parsons said. “It was probably one of the most complete matches we played the entire year. I am very proud of the girls. That was definitely an upset win in almost everyone’s minds.”

Roeder, the KingCo MVP this year, again had a strong performance with 30 kills, four blocks and 18 digs. Hanna was strong up front again with 22 kills. Sorenson, one of the top setters in the tournament, had 52 assists and 14 digs. Defensive standouts Batiquin and Maggie Reingold contributed 28 digs and 10 digs, respectively.

With the victory over Olympia, Issaquah went up against talented Jackson. The Eagles fought hard, but couldn’t overcome Jackson.

Roeder capped a brilliant tournament with 13 kills and 14 digs. The 6-foot-1 senior was selected to the all-tournament team.

“Rachel was awesome. She carried a mighty offensive and defensive load. She really gave her best for the entire tournament,” Parsons said. “She was probably the most outstanding player in the tournament, but as you know, the MVP always goes to the state championship team.”

Leigh-Ann Hataja, of Jackson, was voted the tournament’s most valuable player. She had nine kills and 15 digs in the final match.

Sorenson, another senior, also was selected to the all-tournament team.

“Riley was tremendous. She is our steady force, not too high and not too low. Just constant,” Parsons said. “Her job is to make the ball better for the hitters and she did that as well as anyone in the tournament. Riley is not the most physically talented player, but her hard work and passion carry her to great levels. She was a rock.”

Parsons said he thought Batiquin and Hanna were also deserving of all-tournament honors.

“Alexa led our team in digs and had some unbelievable plays on the floor,” Parsons said. “Sarah was the other player that carried the offensive load. She made so many clutch swings for us in tough times.”

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

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