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Mead starts fast before holding off Tahoma in State 4A volleyball opener

November 11, 2016

KENNEWICK – The fast start worked a little against the Mead volleyball team Friday morning.

The Panthers breezed to a first-set win over Tahoma before they had to fight for their postseason lives the rest of the way.

Mead found the wherewithal to hold off Tahoma 25-13, 22-25, 25-21, 25-23 in a State 4A tournament opener at the Toyota Center.

The Panthers (22-2) take on Bothell in a quarterfinal match at 5.

In a big upset, No. 1-ranked and undefeated West Valley of Yakima fell to defending state champ Curtis 3-2.

WV brought a 27-0 record to state and was 58-1, including a five-set win at Mead last month, going back to a semifinal loss at state a year ago.

Mead trailed 16-8 and was getting outplayed at the net in the pivotal third set. A key moment came with the Panthers trailing 20-19.

Maddie Lee somehow got a fist on a free ball and directed it over the net to an open area, tying the match at 20-20.

“I don’t know what happened there,” Lee said. “That’s for sure my ball and I don’t know why I was hesitating. That should have been an easy dig.”

After a 21-21 tie, Mead pulled out the win. Lee got an ace on set point.

Lee led Mead with 13 kills, five aces and two blocks. Amanda Chan added 11 kills and 15 digs.

“I think we all underestimated Tahoma a lot because of the first game,” Lee said. “They for sure got their groove together and came back strong; we just weren’t ready for it in the second set. Their quick tempo hurt us and our blocks weren’t prepared for it. And our defense was discombobulated.”

The fourth set was back and forth until McKenna Russell managed a dig off a free ball that found open court to give Mead a 17-15 lead. The Panthers extended the lead to 20-15.

Tahoma fought back. A kill by Jordan Shoff gave Mead a 24-20 lead.

But Tahoma crawled back, pulling within 24-23 before a Chan kill gave Mead the match.

“We just had to switch our mindset to not being scared of their size and tipping and stuff so we had to go all out and swing as hard as we could and be confident in ourselves,” Lee said. “Once we got our confidence back it showed.”

Lee is hopeful the match will fuel more consistent play for Mead the rest of the tournament.

“Tahoma’s a really good team so for us to blow them out in the first set was not characteristic of Tahoma,” Mead coach Shawn Wilson said. “They showed how good they are in the second set. They had us on our heels. They’re such an offensive team.”

Wilson said his team had to have solid ball control to have a chance.

“We were able to do that when it counted,” he said. “We got a little fearful for a few points but at the end we kind of regrouped and got a little more aggressive with our offense.”

The story will be updated through the day.