EPHRATA, Wash. — In a district championship volleyball match that lacked state-tournament ramifications, Eastern Washington Athletic Conference rivals Dayton and Walla Walla Valley Academy played as if their seasons were on the line here Saturday night.
The Bulldogs prevailed in five sets — 25-19, 25-21, 24-26, 23-25, 15-10 — to claim the district title. They will be taking the district’s No. 1 seed to this week’s Washington Class 2B state tournament in Yakima, something coach Shannon Turner and her players knew before Saturday’s match began.
Coach Scott Schafer and his WWVA players were well aware before the first ball was put in play Saturday that their season was coming to an end regardless of the outcome. Because of their Seventh-day Adventist religion, which doesn’t allow participation in athletics from sundown Friday until sundown Saturday, the Knights will forego the state tournament that begins Friday and concludes Saturday in the SunDome.
Kittitas, the EWAC regular-season champion, defeated Brewster in Saturday’s third-place game and will advance to state in place of WWVA as the district’s No. 2 seed.
“I want to congratulate Dayton on great competition throughout the season,” Schafer said of the Bulldogs, who also defeated the Knights twice during the regular season. “They are deserving of the No. 1 seed and I wish them the best at state this next weekend.
“It is unfortunate that we are not allowed to go to state due to being denied accommodation by the WIAA (Washington Interscholastic Activities Association) to change our matches from Saturday,” Schafer added. “I want to thank the EWAC for accommodating us at the district level, and while it is disappointing to not be allowed to compete at state as No. 2 out of district, we have enjoyed and journey and we hope that in future years we will have a chance.”
For Dayton, the future is Friday when they take a 14-4 overall record into their state tourney opener against Northwest Christian. The match is slated for 1:30 p.m.
“I knew we had a good team and would be a contender for state when the season began,” Bulldogs coach Shannon Turner said. “I have coached these seniors since they were freshmen, and they are solid players with experience and leadership.”
Jenna Phillips, Josilyn Fullerton and Mia Becker, Dayton’s trio of seniors, were all of that and more in Saturday’s district title game.
Phillips was a force at the net with 26 kills. She also recorded 24 digs, was 17-for-18 serving with three aces, and added “a ton of blocks, five block kills in all,” Turner noted.
Fullerton scored 16 kills, 18 digs, three blocks and was 15-for-17 serving with two aces. And Becker contributed a team-best 29 digs and was 8-for-8 from the service line with a pair of aces.
Junior Hanna Becker was Dayton’s floor leader with 46 assists to go with 10 digs, four kills and a 16-for-17 serving night and two aces. Junior Megan Robyns led the way at the service line, going 24-for-24 with two aces.
“All of the games were close and hard fought,” Turner said. “Everyone contributed, and my three seniors all played their best match of the season.”
On the WWVA side, Gabrielle Browning and Alissa Hendrickson were strong at the net with 18 and 17 kills, respectively.
Browning was the Knights’ digs leader with 46, followed by Willa King with 41. Hendrickson and Browning finished with nine blocks each, and Browning also led with a 15-for-16 serving night. And Anja Cole put up 31 assists.
WWVA finished its season with a 13-4 record.