The Skyline Spartans girls volleyball team is back in the state tournament for the second year in a row.
“We’ve been practicing and working really hard this season. We’ve been fighting for it (state spot), so it was nice that out work paid off, but it’s not the end of it,” said Alex Scherer.
On the outside looking in, this Spartan team may have appeared to just sneak into the tournament. They are the 16-seed and are probably overlooked by many schools.
“We’re looking to be the underdogs… We made it to state for a reason, so we want to show that we deserve to be there,” Savannah Fisher said.
But the Spartans might be one of the more dangerous 16-seeds and are capable of an upset. In the regular season, Skyline went on a 12-game winning streak to bolster them up the standings of the KingCo 4A league.
This team feels more connected, and that has been the difference with the Spartans making the tournament back-to-back years.
“I feel like the dynamic is more of a family dynamic,” said Rachel Maginnis.
But the Spartans stumbled into the postseason and even in the district tournament, losing five of nine.
“We’ve grown up playing volleyball with each other. We just needed to reset mentally and get tough and finish strong. That really brought us together and we played well,” Scherer said.
A turning point in Skyline’s postseason was a winner-to-state game against Glacier Peak. It was a five-set loss for the Spartans and a game that they felt they should have won.
“It was definitely a wake-up call because things aren’t going to go our way all the time,” Maginnis said.
But after that heart-breaking loss, the Spartans had to take on Mount Si for the fifth time of the season. The Spartans took down the Wildcats in four sets, securing a spot in the state tournament, at the last possible opportunity.
“I was so proud of us. I knew we could do it. We just needed to work together and come back. It was a really big moment for us,” Scherer said.
“A lot of us made a mental switch into having to push every point and focus on our side of the court instead of their side of the court,” Rylee Booth said.
Last season the Spartans were also the 16-seed and faced the number one seed out of the SPSL. Last year it was Puyallup, this year it is Olympia. Since 2014, the 16th seed has won just two sets against the number one seed, let alone take down Goliath.
“When I first saw it, it was a little intimidating… If we have the right mindset and hit our zones, we can put up a good fight,” Scherer said.
This Skyline team is in its window this season, with nine seniors on the roster. Just two have been varsity players their entire career, Rachel Maginnis and Rylee Booth.
For the other seven seniors, in the eyes of their peers, they have improved as teammates.
“I feel like each one of us has pushed each other to get better and better each practice and each game. Instead of everyone being focused on themselves,” Maginnis said.
There has been a push in motivation for the seniors as well.
“Since they have moved up to varsity, it has given them a drive for the game of volleyball. Instead of being on JV and playing out your season, we’re dedicated to get to state and win those games,” Booth said.
The Spartans are confident and rearing to go as the underdogs against Olympia.
“Any team is beatable and has their weak spots. So it’s about finding those weak spots,” Booth said.
“Going in as a team, knowing that we’re here for each other, instead of individual players, is really going to help us go in as strong as we can,” Maginnis said.