Sometimes the scoreboard can be misleading with regard to how a matchup actually transpired on a volleyball court.
The Mercer Island Islanders may have earned a 3-0 (25-19, 25-22, 25-13) win against the Bellevue Wolverines in the Class 3A KingCo volleyball tournament championship game on Oct. 30, but the title contest was much closer than the score indicated. Bellevue senior Ally Witham’s ace gave her team a commanding 17-12 lead against Mercer Island in the first set of play. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, Mercer went on a 13-2 run the rest of the way earning a 25-19 win in the first set. In the second set Bellevue jumped out to a 10-4 lead. Following a Mercer Island timeout, the Islanders outscored the Wolverines 21-12 down the stretch, earning a 25-22 win in the second set. Mercer Island dominated the third set (25-13) en route to the sweep. Mercer Island improved their overall record to 17-1 with the win while Bellevue dropped to 13-5 overall. Bellevue head coach Vance Kalingo was encouraged by his team’s performance against one of the best volleyball programs in Washington. The Islanders lost a mere two sets in KingCo league play during the 2016 regular season. The Islanders only loss came in a non-league match against the Bellarmine Prep Lions on Sept. 21.
“We had a six point lead in the second set and a good lead in the first set. We had some really good energy and I think we are in a good place right now,” Kalingo said. “We are the No. 2 seed going into districts and we will be playing against the ninth seed in Metro (league).”
The Islanders, who clinched the No. 1 seed going into districts with the sweep of the Wolverines, faced real adversity for the first time since their non-league loss against Bellarmine on Sept. 21.
“I think it was good for us to be tested,” Mercer Island head coach Susan Rindlaub said. “Bellevue played really well in both of the first two sets. We were just making some errors. We were doing the hard things really well but were making stupid mistakes on easier plays. We just needed to calm down and start playing our game. Little by little we came back. I was really proud of the grit and determination we showed. It was really good to have our backs against the wall for a little bit, especially against our rival.”
Mercer Island outside hitter Kelly Behrbaum had a game-high 14 kills in the victory. Adara Hamilton added nine kills as well in the win.