Lady T-Birds ride strong finish into volleyball playoffs
By Seattle Valdivia - Staff Reporter
The Lady T-Birds Volleyball team will play its first playoff game today against the Bel- levue Bulldogs at the Greater Tacoma Convention Center at 11:30 a.m. on court No. 1.
The T-Birds played their last regular game last Wednes- day, Nov. 7 against the Raiders at Pierce College HEC, where the Raiders beat the T-Birds 3-0.
"We didn't play with any fight or grit to win," Head Coach Chris Littleman said.
The teams were back and forth on the first set but High- line found a way to take the lead, and when they lacked a point to win, Pierce took the lead thanks to a double block by Raider Katie Yorke. The set ended 26-24.
In the second set Pierce was up by four points. High- line couldn't tie the game and Pierce took the lead with five straight kills ending the set, 25-17.
In the third set the Raiders started by scoring four points over Highline. The T-Birds came back strong after Pierce
substituted a player, scoring five straight points, forcing Pierce to take a time out. With the score 23-20.
After the time out, the Raiders came back strong and a double kill by Ryleigh Bur- dick sealed the deal, 25-22.
Highline ended the season with a 11-3 record and with a 28-10 overall record.
Bellevue, Highline's playoff opponent, ended the season with an 8-4 record and a 24-13 overall record.
The teams faced each other on Aug. 25, where the T-Birds won 2-0.
In the other bracket, the Linn Benton Roadrunners and the North Idaho Cardinals will play their first playoff game today on the court No. 2 at 11:30 a.m.
"We need to make sure we are fighting and bringing good volleyball energy to the court," Littleman said. "Everything else will take care of itself."
If the T-Birds win against the Bulldogs, they will play against whoever wins the oth- er bracket; if Highline loses they'll play the loser between North Idaho and Linn Ben-
ton. "We feel strong and ready,"
Littleman said. "We know we can beat anyone in the NWAC and just have to control our side of the court."
The playoff favorite team is Spokane to win it all, several coaches said.
"Spokane is the favorite as they are undefeated," Little- man said.
"There are 10 to 12 solid teams in the tournament but the team that could be the favorite is Spokane," Bellevue Head Coach Jocelyn Lawrence said.
"I think Spokane is the favorite in the tournament be- cause they are undefeated," Shoreline Head Coach Raquel West said. "Even in pre-season they didn't lose."
"I would say Spokane with a record of 35-0 is the favorite to win it all," Lane Head Coach Stephanie Willett said.
"Spokane is the team to beat and has the smoothest road to the championship," Blue Mountain Head Coach Jessica Humphreys said.
Spokane Head Coach Jenni Roselli-Hull thinks that the most dangerous teams are
those that are at the top of the table of each region.
"The favorites in the tournament are listed at the top seeds in each division, Pierce, Edmonds, Linn-Benton," she said, "All east teams have had strong seasons. Watch out for all four of them."
Many teams can surprise in the tournament even if they had a bad season, different coaches said.
"There is a lot of strong teams and I've seen how small teams can surprise," Lawrence said. "We just have to prepare for the tournament and see what happen."
"There are three to five teams that could be in the finals," Littleman said.
"I think we could surprise a lot of people," West said. "In the beginning of the season we were working well."
"I think that Highline is coming on strong at the end of the season," Roselli-Hull said. "I look for them to go far in this tournament but Blue Mountain could win it all."
"Anything can happen," Willett said. "Doesn't matter where you are seeded, the team with the least mistakes will win." "Any East region team will
be a tough match regardless of their seed," Humphreys said. "At one point in this season, three east region teams were ranked in the top five, and three of four crossover tournaments were won by the east: us, North Idaho and Spokane."
Each team will have to do their best to win it all.
"We need to play with passion, heart, energy and constancy," Littleman said. "The team that plays will give them self the best chance."
"We are going to have to get thru a lot of teams, we have to play as a family," Lawrence said. "We have to put the work as a family because no individual teams can win it all."
"We have to concentrate one match at the time and one point at the time," West said.
"The team that is most consistent composed will take the title this year," Roselli said.
"We have to play at our level," Willett said. "We have to minimize unforced errors."
"Our team will need to play with heart and full of effort and energy to win," Humphreys said.