Verna LaCourse (left) and Elizabeth Madden go up for a block in the State Championship game against LaConner’s standout senior, Cora Kellerman.
Manson comes home with silver
By Richard Uhlhorn
“When we were bounced out at districts last year, we made the decision that we would do no worse than fourth at state this year,” exclaimed Coach Desiree Phelps after Manson’s Lady Trojans finished second at this year’s tournament. “I told them that there was nothing to keep us from that goal.” Phelps said that as soon as the State Track Championships were over this year, the girls were calling and asking when they could access the gym.
Over the course of this year’s season, Manson didn’t lose a match. However, they did have some competition which helped them prepare the state tournament. Manson came into the state tournament under the radar despite being the first seed out of the North Central District. “I told my assistants that we get no respect. They don’t know who we are and that’s the way we like it.”
The Lady Trojans came into the WIAA 2B State Volleyball Tournament loaded to bear with a cadre of seniors… eight in all. The rest of the team was made up of experienced juniors.
Manson faced dark horse Darrington in game one who entered the tournament third out of the Tri-District. It only took one-half a game before the Trojans settled down to work and got over their nervousness. With the score in game one tied at 13-all, Manson took over the game and ran the score up to 20-14 before allowing the Loggers to score two more points. Manson hit its way to the win 25-16.
In game two, the Darrington Loggers were stunned at Manson’s strong offensive play from standout senior outside hitter Elizabeth Madden, senior middle hitter Aubrey Plew and the great setting of senior Katie Barnes who was receiving the ball well from the back row of junior libero Whitni England and senior Keisha Neff. Also dominating the front row were seniors Ashley McKenna and Sierra Ellsworth and junior Kelsey Harding.
Manson just simply rolled through the Loggers in game two with a 25-12 victory.
After falling behind in game three 9-2, the Loggers regained some composure put 20 points on the scoreboard before Manson put them away 25-20.
While the Lady Trojans displayed nervousness at the beginning of this match, they quickly gained their confidence level and began executing their game. “They will be a lot less hesitant in the next match because they will have an opportunity to watch their new opponents before playing them,” said Coach Phelps. “They will see what they are up against.”
Northwest Christian, the fourth seed out of the Eastern Regional, earned the right to play Manson after defeating South Bend. Manson took the advantage immediately and rolled through Crusaders without a problem, 25-19, 25-17, 25-12, putting the Trojans solidly into the semi final match-up on Saturday between them and the Wilbur Creston Wildcats, another team deemed to be a favorite to make it to the final.
“We felt good with this win. They did what I asked them to do and we’ve never had that before,” said Coach Phelps.
With the move to the semi-final match against one of the state’s powerhouses, Manson, ranked sixth in state, was certainly considered the underdog. “We love being the underdog,” Phelps said. Wilbur Creston, who only lost two games all season, came into the match with a 13-0 league record.
In the opening game, Manson jumped all over the Wildcats, running out to an 11-5 lead before Wilbur Creston’s coach called a timeout. The Wildcats settled down and began to play their game, but the Lady Trojans confidence level wasn’t going to be broken and they went on to win game one 25-18.
In game two, Manson fell behind initially as the Wildcats used their experience and skill to forge a lead. The Lady Trojans adjusted to the Wildcat offense and finally took the lead 11-10 before defeating the Wildcats 25-21 in an exciting game.
Game three was a battle as both teams fought for dominance, neither one giving up an advantage. Just when it looked like the Wildcats were going to force game four and the score was 19-22, Coach Phelps called a timeout.
At this juncture, Manson was able to tie the game up at 22-all before the Wildcat coach called a timeout to try and settle her team down. It didn’t work as Manson’s offense put the finishing touches on Wilbur Creston 25-22.
“I’m speechless,” exclaimed an excited Elizabeth Madden. “My God…. We did it in three.” Madden went on to commend the entire team for the effort of routing one of the tournament’s favorites.
“Volleyball is one of those unique sports where it takes a team to win,” said a happy Coach Phelps. “We just decided to come here and have a whole lot of fun,”
Phelps and the Lady Trojans were certainly having fun and for the first time in the school’s history, they were playing a state championship match against the LaConner Braves who were the returning State Champions from 2006.
Manson ran up against LaConner’s middle blocker, senior Cora Kellerman, who at 6 foot tall, wasn’t about to let Madden get into her hitting game. Kellerman was also slamming the ball offensively making it difficult to stop La Conner’s offense.
LaConner just plain rolled over Manson to win game one 25-11. Game two was more of the same, but Manson began to show some signs of adjusting to La Conner’s onslaught and only lost this one 25-17.
A confident LaConner team came into game three thinking that Manson would just give up and walk away with silver, but the Lady Trojans were not about to give up the gold that easy.
They found their game and forged a 10-5 lead and then a 19-11 lead and finally won it 25-14.
Game four was no easier for LaConner despite the fact that they ended up winning the championship. Manson put the fear into them that they may have to play that fifth game when Manson had them tied up at 16-all.
LaConner was making mistakes up this point and Manson went ahead 17-16, but LaConner tied it back up and finally won their back to back state championship 25-20 over the Manson Lady Trojans.
After the final, Coach Phelps said, “We’re happy. At that last timeout I just told the girls to just let it go… play uninhibited and go out and have fun.”
Phelps officially said this was her last year coaching the Lady Trojans after 13 years. Not bad, ending your coaching career on a championship game. “I couldn’t have written it any better,” said Phelps.
Thanks to our GoLakeChelan cobntributors we have several photo libraries of the Lady Trojans at state. Click On the links below and enjoy ! - And THANKS to Rod Barkley, Nancy Miller and Richard Uhlhorn for submitting.
Manson vs Darrington & N W Christian (By Rod Barkley) - Click Here
Manson vs Wilbur-Creston (By Rod Barkley) - Click Here
Manson vs La Conner (By Rod Barkley) - Click Here
Manson Team Poses - (By Nancy Miller) - Click Here
Manson 65 GAME Photos - (By Nancy Miller) - Click Here
Manson GAME #1 Photos By Richard Uhlhorn - Click Here
Manson GAME #2 Photos By Richard Uhlhorn - Click Here
Manson GAME #3 Photos By Richard Uhlhorn - Click Here
Manson GAME #4 Photos By Richard Uhlhorn - Click Here