Seniors lead Bellevue volleyball into postseason

Despite a loss to Mercer Island, the Wolverines hope to claw their way to state tournament.

The Bellevue volleyball team won’t have to wait very long for another chance at its rival after a 3-2 loss to Mercer Island on Oct. 30. The Islanders (7-7) and Wolverines (13-3) will meet again in the first round of the 3A KingCo tournament on Nov. 5.

“It’s definitely not over,” Bellevue libero Carly Burns said. “It’s going to be fun to have the next few days of practice, and just come back out and blow their socks off.”

The Wolverines had already secured the regular-season title before their senior night showdown with the Islanders. Bellevue head coach Jamie Tingelstad said the regular season success was a combination of talented starters and a deep bench.

“I think the biggest thing this year was coming into this year and everyone knowing their role and where they’re needed,” Tingelstad said. “Those that play every night, knowing how they help their team, but also those girls who are called in from the bench kind of knowing what their niche is and what they bring to the team and being able to step in during clutch situations for us.”

After dropping the first set, 25-20, the Wolverines won the second and third sets, 25-13 and 25-17, to take a 2-1 lead. With the teams tied at eight in the fourth set, the Islanders pulled away for a 25-15 win to even up the game and force a fifth set. In the final set, Mercer Island lead the entire way, winning the set, 15-10, and taking the match 3-2.

The loss was only their second league loss of the season, the other coming in a 3-1 loss to the Sammamish Totems (8-7) on Oct. 16. Burns said the loss to the Totems will help them in the postseason.

“We felt like we needed to lose, honestly,” Burns said. “We wouldn’t have known what to do after that in the postseason. Going forward, we can watch a lot of the film to see what made us lose and to fix it.”

The regular-season finale against the Islanders was more than just a game against a rival, it was also an opportunity to celebrate the eight seniors on the Bellevue team.

“I’ve coached all these girls for the last four years, whether it was at the varsity or JV level, and I didn’t even realize, up until a week ago, that we had so many of them on the varsity level,” Tingelstad said. “Eight out of 13 is huge, and they’ve not only been leaders within our team, but within this whole league and within our program. They’re great role models for the girls that are coming up.”

Burns, one of the Bellevue seniors, has been around the Bellevue volleyball program for four years and saw her sisters play on the team before her.

“Senior night was huge,” Burns said. “I’ve been watching both of my older sisters do it. I think this is a really tight-knit program. It’s really fun because our team this year has really clicked and we all are really embracing and empowering each other.”

Pictures of the eight seniors were displayed outside the gym at Bellevue High School for the senior-night celebration. Burns said it was sad to see the faces of her friends, knowing that it was their last time playing together in that gym.

“I’ve played with some of these people for like nine years of club volleyball,” Burns said. “It’s really fun because you really want to play for your team rather than yourself.”

Bellevue defensive specialist Julianne Raman is one of eight seniors on the Wolverines volleyball team. Photo courtesy of Don Borin/Stop Action Photography

Bellevue defensive specialist Julianne Raman is one of eight seniors on the Wolverines volleyball team. Photo courtesy of Don Borin/Stop Action Photography