After sharing the GAC Central volleyball championship last season, it’s been Washington’s goal all season to take the outright league crown this year.
The Lady Jays (14-15-1, 8-0) capped an unbeaten season in the GAC Central with a home victory Tuesday over Holt, 27-25, 25-22.
“Winning a conference championship is a big accomplishment for us. Going undefeated was a tough goal to achieve, but we did it and we’re extremely proud of it,” said Washington Head Coach Kym Blankenship. “The girls deserve the credit. They keep putting it together when it counts the most.”
The Lady Jays defeated each of the other four teams in the GAC Central twice this season.
“We play each conference team twice and once we beat each team one time, we quickly set our sights on our new goal of not only winning the conference title, but to go undefeated,” Blankenship said. “In the past, our conference games were not that much of a challenge. But the programs have all improved greatly and in most of our matches, all but two, we have gone three games. We truly earned each win.”
Washington is seeded fourth for the Class 4 District 3 Tournament next week at Northwest High School.
The Lady Jays play fifth-seeded Pacific Tuesday at 5 p.m. The winner meets top-seeded Lafayette in the semifinals Wednesday at 5 p.m. The championship match is Wednesday at 7:15 p.m.
Washington sealed its unbeaten conference season with a sweep over Holt.
The Lady Jays jumped to a 17-5 lead in the first game against Holt, which was highlighted on serving runs by Amanda Vollmer and Olivia Strode.
But Holt came storming back with a 16-4 run to tie the game, 21-21.
Things went back-and-forth from there.
Both teams had late leads, Holt at 23-22, and Washington at 24-23, before it was tied at 24 and 25.
Finally, the Lady Jays took the lead for good on a kill by Sarah Borgerding and won the opener with Erica Diener at the service line.
Both teams also held leads in the second game until Washington pulled away late.
Holt held a 17-14 lead, but the Lady Jays took control from there with an 11-5 run the rest of the way.
Borgerding and Strode both had service runs and the match ended on a kill by Jenna Barnhart.
Diener finished the match with 16 digs for Washington. Kelly Gauzy added 10 digs and one assist.
Strode collected four kills, two digs, one block and one ace.
Borgerding registered three kills, three digs and one ace.
Barnhart contributed with three kills and one dig.
Kara Herron added two kills, two blocks, two digs and one assist.
Andrea Zoellner and Vollmer both had one kill. Vollmer also had two aces and one dig.
Paige Carpenter finished with eight assists, eight digs and one block.
Emily Voss added four assists and three digs. Rachel Meyer had two digs. Jessica Hamlett also saw playing time.
“I’m very proud of the girls this year and how they have continued to raise their level of play each week. There is a big difference on how we competed early in the season and how we are competing now,” Blankenship said. “It has been a true pleasure to coach this group of girls this season. They are extremely coachable and have turned into a very hard working group of girls.”
Playing on senior night, Washington ended the regular season Thursday with a home loss to Duchesne, 25-21, 25-21.
“Duchesne has a solid team. I wish we could have won for our seniors, but we just couldn’t get going,” Blankenship said. “Our seniors have been really amazing over the last four years. It’s a great group of kids who I’ve enjoyed coaching.”
Strode finished the match with five kills and three digs. Herron collected three kills, one block and one dig.
Barnhart added three kills and one dig. Zoellner also had three kills. Hamlett had two kills. Borgerding added one kill and one dig.
Diener finished with 15 digs, one kill and one ace. Vollmer had two digs and one block.
Voss registered 10 assists and three digs. Carpenter had five assists and five digs.
“The girls were dissappointed to lose, but we need to get excited about districts, and I know we will be,” Blankenship said. “We have a tough match against Pacific, but we’d like the chance to play Lafayette. It would be a great opportunity for us to see if we can do some damage against a powerhouse program.”