Coming into the tournament as the #2 ranked team in the conference, expectations were high for a Raider program that had not placed in the top 4, since 1980. Through the first two days, the Raiders lived up to their ranking, as they won their opener with relative ease, topping Skagit Valley 3-0 (25-13, 25-15, 25-12).
The competition got a little tougher on Saturday, but the Raiders prevailed with wins in the next two rounds, defeating Chemeketa 3-0 (30-28, 25-13, 25-19), before going five with Edmonds, 3-2 (22-25, 25-17, 25-16, 20-25, 15-11), setting up a showdown of the top two teams in the NWAC – #1 Spokane against the #2 Raiders.
In the final match of the winner’s bracket, the top-ranked and undefeated Sasquatch of Spokane proved to be just a bit too much for the Raiders, ending Pierce’s 17 match win streak, 1-3 (25-21, 16-25,19-25, 19-25). The Raiders’ win in the first set was one of only two sets Spokane lost in the course of taking home the title.
The Raiders had a quick 30 minute break before facing West Region foe, the Highline Thunderbirds, in the final match of the elimination bracket – the winner to face Spokane for the title on Sunday. Despite beating Highline in both of their previous encounters in West Region play, the Raiders could not find the answer to stop the Thunderbirds high-flying attack.
The loss to Highline 0-2 (22-25, 21-25),though disappointing, earned the Raiders a 3rd place finish at the championships – the program’s highest finish ever at the tournament.
Sophomore Jocelyn Hillyer, the newly crowned Most Valuable Player of the West Region, was named to the All Tournament First Team. Freshman Hattey Smith, a West Region Second Team All-Star selection, was named to the All Tournament Second Team. Hillyer and fellow sophomore Kenzie Seitz participated in the sophomore all-star showcase event on Sunday. Sophomore outside Ryleigh Burdick, injured in Saturday’s match with Highline, was unable to participate.
The Raiders’ finished the season with a 34-6 overall record, and went 14-0 in league play. This marked just the second time in program history the Raiders were undefeated in league play.