Dayton, Pomeroy head to state volleyball tourney

The Pirates and the Bulldogs head to the Washington ‘B' tournament in Yakima this week.

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WALLA WALLA - Two regional volleyball teams are heading to Yakima and the Washington Class B State tournament this week in the SunDome.

The Pomeroy Pirates finished second in SE 1B District play in Colfax last weekend.

And the Dayton Bulldogs grabbed the SE 2B District title with wins over Liberty Christian and DeSales last weekend.

Dayton (8-3 in league) opens with Wahkiakum at 9 a.m. Friday and Pomeroy (20-6) plays Wilbur-Creston at 10 a.m. Thursday.

It's Dayton's first trip to state since 2005, when the Bulldogs finished third.

The Bulldogs are on a nine-match winning streak, including going undefeated at districts.

"I'm very proud of their effort at districts," said head coach Shannon Turner. "They had a great attitude and will to win."

There are just two seniors on the team, and only one had previously played varsity volleyball.

"These girls are so young," Turner said. "They're a young team varsity-wise. I only had three players with previous varsity experience of the 10, so I'd say we've ended up at this point because the girls work hard and are very coachable. We've improved with every single match throughout the season. It's hard work and teamwork. This isn't an individual team and they play as a team. They have great attitudes."

The team's goals are to play to their ability, fight to the finish and bring home a trophy, Turner said. Their motto is, "You have to believe in yourself before others can believe in you," she said.

"And they've actually done that the entire season," Turner said. "That's one of their strengths. They work really hard, and they believe they can do it. We're not tall and we're young, but we have a lot of heart."

Turner said the Bulldogs play as a team.

"That's a strength," she said. "They have a great team chemistry and the work well together. They're also balanced - we have both offense and defense and we play both pretty well."

To win at state, Dayton needs to play with intensity and play smart, Turner said.

"They need to stay focused and cut back on unforced errors and try to keep momentum on our side," she said.

And Turner's goal, as a coach, is to keep them focused on that goal.

Dayton hasn't played any non-league matches, so its record and totals are lower than some of its opponents, Turner said.

"We started our very first match with a league match, so we didn't have those nonleague matches or tournaments like a lot of teams did," she said. "So these girls practice hard and play hard all the time."

Pomeroy has made trips to state in seven of the last eight years - although this is the Pirates' first year competing as a 1B school.

Bruce Crossfield is in his second year coaching the Pirates. Last year, playing as a 2B, the Pirates lost in the first round to eventual state champ Colfax, and then lost in the loser-out round.

"Last year, we had a pretty young team," he said.

The Pirates have four seniors, and one - Melissa Bartlow - was involved as a freshman, so she's been to state all four years of her high school career.

This year, Crossfield aims to win the tournament.

"We want to get it done," he said. "We've got a legitimate chance at winning it, so that's our focus."

The team's motto has evolved to "Bring our ‘A' Game," Crossfield said.

"We did that last Saturday in two elimination games for the final spot in districts to go to state, and I thought we played well. So our main concern now is to do what we're supposed to do and control what we need to control."

Although the Pirates haven't always been consistent, Crossfield is pleased with his team.

"We've been kind of up and down during the season, but we played pretty well in the most important matches," Crossfield said, citing the weekend district wins over Garfield-Palouse and St. John-Endicott.

The Pirates have also had some bad games, he said.

"We didn't play too well in our district semifinal against Colton last Wednesday," he said. "We lost 3-1 and we'd beaten them twice during the regular season. Some of that was that they improved and played well, but we didn't play our best that night. We came back that weekend (at districts) and played the best we've played all year.

"So based on that, you've gotta feel good coming in," he said. "We're pretty healthy. But you never know - the ball rolls over the net one way or the other, a call goes one way or the other. Volleyball is a crazy game anyways. If we play well, the winning can take care of itself."

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