YAKIMA — In the middle of the hoopla and celebrations near the Rainier bench, coach Carrie Ooms stood with tears in her eyes.
“We’ve made Rainier history,” Ooms said.
That they did.
For the first time in school history, the Rainier Mountaineers are heading to the state semifinals, as they knocked off the No. 1 Adna Pirates 25-22, 13-25, 21-25, 25-21, 16-14 in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.
It was as close as a match could be, especially late in the fifth and final set, which was tied at 11-11, 12-12, 13-13 and 14-14, before the Mountaineers scored the final two points to complete the upset.
“It’s pretty darn amazing,” Ooms said. “We went out and played with heart … The girls have worked hard, and they’re a team, and I’m just super proud of them.”
After the Mountaineers’ win in the first round earlier in the day, Ooms said that they knew what they needed to do to top the Pirates, who entered the game a perfect 19-0.
Three of those wins had come against the Mountaineers, including one as recently as last Wednesday in the district tournament. Rainier had won just one set in those three matches, and the Pirates had only lost four sets all season prior to Wednesday.
Ooms said that in those first three matchups, the Pirates had success avoiding Rainier’s block. On Wednesday, whether it was tips or pushes, the Mountaineers were there defensively to keep the play alive, something Ooms said had been a focus point in recent practices.
“We know how they played,” Ooms said. “We’ve lost against them in the past. Just went out and fixed what we needed to, and we kept our energy and belief up.”
Allyson Ooms and Olivia Earsley led the defensive effort, as Ooms tallied 19 digs and Earsley logged 15.
The stellar defense turned into a brutally efficient offensive attack, as the Mountaineers were able to maintain a lead when they had it.
In the first set, after Adna briefly took a 13-12 lead, Rainier responded with a 6-3 run to take a lead they didn’t relinquish. Similarly, in the fourth, after taking a 13-12 lead, they stretched it to 19-15, and it never got closer than three points throughout the remainder of the set.
Janess Blackburn and Acacia Murphy both had 15 kills, while Ooms added seven. Brooklynn Swenson had 34 assists, and she also notched three aces.
And now, for the first time, the Mountaineers will have a chance to play their way into the state title game.
“I’m looking forward to some more great competition,” Carrie Ooms said. “Just knowing that, already, we’ve more than exceeded my goals for this year.”
The ninth-seeded Vikings will take on No. 5 Lind-Ritzville-Sprauge in the semifinals at 10 a.m.
It’ll be a quicker turnaround for the Pirates, who will take the court at 8 a.m. tomorrow against No. 13 Liberty.
“It’s tough to beat a team that you have played four times,” Adna coach Wednie Dotson said. “Rainier knows us and played a solid game. It was the little things we were not able to do in the end that hurt us.”
Karsyn Freeman led the way offensively with 24 kills, while Kendall Humphrey totaled 21. Freeman added six digs, two blocks and two aces, while Humphrey also logged eight digs, three blocks and two aces,
Danika Hallom and Gaby Guard both added nine kills, while Guard also dished out 38 assists, added 10 digs and blocked three shots. Hallom also tallied 11 digs. Chariss Schierman had 19 assists, five digs and three kills.
With a win, the Pirates would advance to the fifth-place game, where they would face the winner of No. 6 Toutle Lake and No. 7 Okanogan.