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Lady Falcons bound for state tourney once again

  • Written by Don Mann
Volleyball
With her teammates behind her, Ashtyn Mann lets one rip for a winner. Photo by Don Mann.
Sometimes in sports — and it doesn’t happen a lot — it all comes together and you get on such a roll it feels like it’s rolling downhill.

And that’s what’s happening right now with the Woodinville volleyball team, which knocked off Newport — 14-1 coming in — in four games (25-19, 25-23, 19-25, 25-17 for those keeping score) to win the KingCo 4A tournament championship at Bothell High School on Thursday.

The Lady Falcons (14-3), winners of six straight matches since an upset at home against crosstown rival Bothell three weeks ago, are headed to the state tournament against an opponent to be named later and will carry a No.1 seed in the 16-team venue.

It’s the third straight trip to state for coach Mike Mills’ crew.

“I think after that Bothell loss we grew up a lot,” the four-year head man said. “We had a big talk to decide what direction we wanted to go to, because we were at a turning point.  We either buckle down and get things accomplished or we’re just gonna play for fun. It was up to them.”

The Lady Falcs got things accomplished.

Ali Forde played like, well ... Ali Forde ... and Ashtyn Mann stepped it up in the middle as the twin towers earned first team All-KingCo honors.

Against Newport, which whipped them at WHS in its previous match, the duo was dynamite: Forde with 19 kills and 25 digs, Mann with 13 kills and a handful of major momentum-swinging blocks at the net. Some of the kills were absolute gunshots.

But they were not alone: Seniors Jen Schnelle, Kelsea Orren and Andie Kelly played big in their final local performance, and juniors Hailey Chapman, Brooke Wiley and Maddy Young rose to the occasion.

There was a marked sense of confidence from a talented team that was still finding itself a month ago, and things changed.

“We were down against Eastlake like 20-13 and came back to win 25-21,” Mills recalled. “Against Seattle Prep — a classy program that might win state at 3A — we were down 21-17 and came back to win that one 26-24. That’ll boost your confidence. A lot of it too is our communication is better and our defense is better and the girls just started to believe in themselves, which is huge. The girls are gelling and don’t get rattled.  We’re not afraid to keep battling and take it on.”

Note: Earlier in the day, Forde, the all-everything performer in volleyball and basketball who had other compelling full-ride offers, gave a verbal commitment to University of Idaho to play both sports for the Vandals. She’ll join her big brother Maxx, a scholarship football player, in Moscow, to make it their own private Idaho.

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