Klickitat has one of the youngest volleyball teams in its classification but, as its veteran players will attest, playing in the state tournament never gets old.
The Vandals earned their third consecutive WIAA Class 1B tournament berth last Saturday in Goldendale with a pair of straight-sets victories over their latest challengers, the Bickleton Pirates.
After sweeping Trout Lake/Glenwood in its opening round match of the Yakima Valley District tournament last Wednesday, Klickitat defeated Bickleton in the semifinals, then again in the championship match.
"The girls played very solid on offense and defense," said second-year Vandals Coach Jaecee Hoctor. "All of the girls are very excited that they are undefeated league champs and are now going to state, which was the goal we set at the very first practice. I'm very proud of their efforts and their love for the game."
Sophomore Samantha Brewer powered the Vandals' attack during district play, finishing with 46 kills and five blocks in three matches. Junior Zoe Linder added 21 kills and served a team-leading 18 aces.
Kali Fargher, the team's lone senior, accounted for 32 assists and 13 kills to the winning cause, and eighth-grader Ashley Meeks tallied 36 assists from her setter position.
"Sam was a big threat at the net with 29 kills (against Bickleton)," Hoctor said. "Zoe contributed 16 kills with her keen eye for seeing holes. And both setters, Kali and Ashley, did an excellent job of getting the ball to them."
Klickitat (15-2) opens state tournament play at 2 p.m. Friday against Mary M. Knight (8-5) of Elma, on Court No. 1 in the Yakima SunDome.
Should they win their opener, the Vandals will play their second match at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday. A loss would send Klickitat to the losers' bracket for a 5 p.m. loser-out match on Friday against either Lummi or Almira/Coulee-Hartline.
Hoctor hopes the Vandals' tournament experience and overall depth will give Klickitat an edge over its competition.
"We're returning to state with more experience and a deeper bench than last year, when we only had eight girls, including three eighth-graders," Hoctor noted. "This year we have 12 girls, six of whom are eighth-graders."
Moreover, based on last year's seventh-place finish, the Vandals know how to get the job done against the best teams in their classification.
"We've really increased our mental game and can pull apart the weaknesses our opponent has," Hoctor said. "Everyone on the team contributes to our success and the girls work together with each other's strengths to pull out wins."