The biggest volleyball match for Mount Si as a 4A school is tonight. ‘Cats. ‘Eagles. A barnburner on tap in MSHS’ new gym and we bring out our preview and pick segment for this special edition!!!

This 2019 season for Mount Si High School’s volleyball team has been something special. The team is tied for first at 5-1 in league and faces off with one of the other schools they are tied with for top spot, Issaquah, also at 5-1 in Kingco 4A, tonight in what by far is frankly the biggest match this Wildcat program has played since it joined the 4A ranks back in 2014.

KINGCO 4A VOLLEYBALL
MOUNT SI WILDCATS VS. ISSAQUAH EAGLES
MOUNT SI HIGH SCHOOL, SNOQUALMIE, FIRST SERVE 7:00 P.M.

As noted, the two teams are tied for top spot in the league so this is a big one for both teams, but perhaps bigger for Mount Si. A win tonight for the Wildcats would see them potentially move into first place alone, but at a minimum they’d have a head-to-head tiebreaker on both the Eagles and North Creek, who are also tied with Mount Si for that top spot at 5-1 but who the Wildcats beat earlier in the season. More importantly, a Mount Si victory would likely knock the Eagles out of the picture for the regular season Kingco title after having started the season undefeated in league.

That all said, this Issy team is, like it’s been for years, going to be a tough customer. Mount Si’s familiar with that dating all the way back to the heyday of several years back when the two schools were both part of Kingco 3A. The Eagles are 9-1 this year overall, tied for first as noted earlier and suffered their first loss of the season last night at home being swept by North Creek, who the Wildcats beat a few weeks ago in that barnburner in late September.

Taking a look at MaxPreps, it appears the Eagles have a good group of players to watch tonight in this one.

Leading that group is senior Lauren Spencer. Going into last night’s match, she had 33 aces and 129 digs over the course of the matches that they recorded, which included matches at some of their Saturday tournaments earlier this year, and had 14 digs in the match Monday against the Jaguars. Spencer’s certainly going to have her work cut out for her against a strong Mount Si offense led by Bailey Showalter, but she’s probably good for 10-12 digs and two-three aces a contest.

Olivia Morgan has been the top setter for Issy this fall, and is averaging it appears around 20 or so assists a contest. She had 20 in the loss Monday. Expect a big number tonight with this game expected to go long into the night. The senior also is leading the team in aces, averaging around three-four of those a match and is also defending well, averaging around we think five to seven digs a contest. Morgan seems to be a jack of all trades and we’ve seen that over the years out of players from this program.

Abby May and Maya Patton are two primary offensive weapons for Issy, averaging around seven or eight kills a match although both of them are probably good for maybe 10-15 each tonight. May’s a junior and Patton’s a senior, and both will be coming off tough nights Monday, in which they combined for just eight kills in the match. May also is a defensive asset, averaging around 8-10 digs a night, so look for her to step up in that area as well. Junior Sadie Bacon led Issy with 11 kills, so she’ll also be a factor tonight.

In all, a lot of good players who are good in multiple skill areas, and that depth will be a factor we expect in this one tonight.

Mount Si is 10-2 overall on the season and has a number of players that are among the league leaders in various categories. We’ll start with sophomore Bailey Showalter, who had 14 kills, eight aces and 11 digs in the Wildcats’ win over Woodinville Monday. Showalter came into this program prior to last season with tremendous credentials, and only has enhanced those, both here and at the club level, as she has gained more experience. Showalter’s skill set is built for matches like tonight, so this will be her first real opportunity to be a “big game” performer as a high school player.

Senior setter Dana Dolan is averaging around 20-25 assists for most matches and she had 21 assists Monday. Dolan has established herself as one of the top setters in the league and perhaps with some work can land an opportunity at the next level. Hey Central Washington University, and coach Mario Andaya, two of your best-ever setters – Catie Fry and Maggie Olson – came from Foote’s program here at Mount Si. How about making “Double D” or “D-Squared” as we like to call Dolan, number three?

Sophomore Kira Holmberg is a wild card tonight, because she has served tough in recent games. A strong serving sequence in the third set of a match two weeks ago put Mount Si in cruise control to land a sweep of Redmond, and she had seven more aces and 14 digs Monday. Tonight’s match though comes with a lot of pressure, and that is not something that Holmberg is used to much at this level. Big test tonight, and how she responds will be telling for the overall chances of the squad.

A couple of players we’d like to see pick up the pace a little bit are seniors Megan Underbrink and Breana Fitzgerald. The two had modest numbers Monday – six kills, two digs for Fitzgerald and five kills, two digs and an ace for Underbrink. The two vets, both of whom also had club success last spring, if they can pick it up can become two real nice supporting pieces to help the depth of this team as it aims for the playoffs.

Wildcat coach Bonnie Foote is fast approaching 20 years at the helm of this Mount Si volleyball ship, and for the past number of those years, she’s had a solid coaching staff working with her in assistants Dave Bachman and Cristin Stahlberg. There’s a few of us old-timers in this program that remember the peak of Foote’s tenure from 2007-2013 when the team made several state tournament appearances during that time, and it seems as if we are beginning to see a return to that glory.

However, it has been a while since the team played this important a regular season match. They’ve prepped well for it, though, with that four-set win over North Creek in September, and also posting a key road win over Skyline last Wednesday night, also in four sets. So we wouldn’t expect the lack of big match experience to be a big concern for this group. This match is one that these girls and their coaching staff have circled on their calendars so they’ll be ready.

Issy, though, is coming off a loss to a strong team at home Monday, in which they were swept as mentioned earlier. So the challenge for the Eagles tonight is to come out looking to convince themselves and their fans that they are still the team to beat in Kingco, and we think they have the players to do it with.

This is a match that will be extremely important for seeding into the upcoming conference tournament. And perhaps because of that, it’s probably more important for Mount Si to win this contest, if for no other reason than it sends a message that they are a contender and it’ll make the playoff path a little easier provided players continue to follow the old Foote mantra of “improving every day, every play.” However, we sense that when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, we think Issaquah will have a little more in the tank in the end. Look for this one to go five and for Issy to eke this out.

ISSAQUAH IN 5

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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