Mount Si volleyball begins quest to restore an old tradition – going to state. First up – some ladies from SnoCo……..preview and our thoughts here and now…..

Hopefully, after the Wildcat football team takes care of business today at home in their playoff opener, some of you will get in the car and head on down to Issaquah High School to support Mount Si High School’s volleyball team as it embarks on a push towards their first state tournament appearance as a 4A school. They play Jackson of Mill Creek in their Wes-King bi-district opener.

KINGCO 4A VOLLEYBALL
WES-KING 4A BI-DISTRICT TOURNAMENT, FIRST ROUND
MOUNT SI WILDCATS (KINGCO #6) VS. JACKSON TIMBERWOLVES (WESCO #3)
ISSAQUAH HIGH SCHOOL, FIRST SERVE 4:00 P.M.

This afternoon, Mount Si embarks on its first district tournament postseason playoff action as a 4A school, as the sixth seed coming from Kingco 4A. They take on the Jackson Timberwolves, the third seed from Wesco 4A.

We gave you everything you need to know about Jackson on Thursday. Here’s a link to that. In a nutshell, this team has been solid all season, and come in with a 14-7 record. The two teams do not have any common opponents, so this foe for the Wildcats is practically an unknown, meaning it’s anybody’s guess what will happen.

For Mount Si to be in a position of success though, their main weapons have to be doing their job. On Thursday, we spoke of Dana Dolan’s 44 assists and 20 digs in the Wildcats’ five-set loss to Bothell back on Tuesday in the Kingco 4A tournament’s fifth-place game. Dolan, as we mentioned at that time, has been increasingly a factor as a setter for Mount Si. The junior’s averaging it appears around 20 assists or so a contest as of late, and the matchup between her and Jackson setter Lydia Robison will be one to watch. Robison’s averaging a similar number of assists a game, and has firmly taken command of that very important position.

Also keep an eye on freshman Bailey Showalter, coming off a strong 29-dig, 14-kill effort in the Bothell match. Showalter has been among the best, if not best, freshmen in Kingco 4A this season, and should provide pressure for the blockers for the Jackson side. Senior Bellah Gogan will guide this Wildcat offense, herself coming off a double-double 18-kill, 18-dig effort in the match with the Cougars. Fellow senior Kami Smith’s 16 digs also provided nice support in that match, so if need be, look for Smith to also make some noise in this one.

A couple of players, though, that we would like to see more out of in this one for scarlet and gray to have success are junior Breana Fitzgerald and senior Hayley West. Fitzgerald’s had a couple of modest performances following her strong 11-kill, 12-dig effort last Saturday in the district-clinching win over Redmond. Fitzgerald has also provided a solid supporting role this season for Mount Si’s offense, but needs to have a performance this afternoon similar to that one against Redmond to help the efforts. Same for West.

West had just two kills and five digs in the Bothell match, and the numbers this year in our view have not been as eye-popping as we would have expected from a senior leader who came into this season with a strong year-round resume. West last year played for one of the top club teams in the Puget Sound Region in the Puget Sound Volleyball Academy 17’s “Bobby” team, among the top five teams in their age group in the region all season. Look for West today to hopefully be more of a factor in this one.

So with that all said, what are the keys to success? Simple. It’s all in the mental prep and focus. With this being an unknown opponent, and no common opponents between the two teams that can offer a clue or two about how strong Jackson is for its solid 14-7 mark, the challenge for Mount Si is to figure out early how best to deal with the Timberwolves, then capitalize on mistakes. As we’ve told you over the years covering the Wildcat program, coach Bonnie Foote’s mantra has always been improvement with each day and each play. And that has been true this year, but the Wildcats have shown their stumbles, too, through the season.

And add in that this is a group that does not have a lot of postseason experience – this is the first time in a “district” or later round of postseason for this Mount Si team since the 2013 season – the challenge for the Wildcats is to try to re-kindle the high expectations of the previous 3A run that saw Mount Si make seven straight state 3A tournaments. This one we expect will be decided real early. If the Wildcats can win the first set of this one and show strength in doing so, then that will speak volumes. Same for Jackson.

Based on the paper evidence, we suspect the Timberwolves may be better, and considering that a lot of these players are back from a state trip last season, the postseason experience may end up being key and that, too, favors Jackson. We like the Timberwolves in this one.

JACKSON IN FOUR

Rhett Workman

About Rhett Workman

Rhett Workman is the editor of the Snoqualmie Valley Sports Journal. Workman is a veteran sports journalist, having covered Snoqualmie Valley sports for nearly a decade with the Snoqualmie Valley Record newspaper before starting up the SVSJ. Workman's coverage has earned the support and respect of Valley coaches, players, parents and fans, and the SVSJ continues the standard of coverage that Workman brought to the Valley Record.
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