State-bound Chargers take aim at district title

Unbeaten Kentridge looks to keep a good thing going

It’s been a gratifying season for Austin Ibale, the Chargers’ senior setter and a four-year varsity player. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

It’s been a gratifying season for Austin Ibale, the Chargers’ senior setter and a four-year varsity player. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

Having already secured a spot to the state 4A volleyball tournament, its first trip there in 17 years, Kentridge High shoots for a district title this weekend.

The Chargers continued their breakout season, outlasting Graham-Kapowsin in four games – 26-24, 25-23, 13-25, 25-18 – last Saturday to reach the West Central District semifinals.

Kentridge, unbeaten at 20-0 and ranked No. 1 in state (MaxPreps) and 12th nationally (Xcellent 25 Writers’ Poll), plays Puyallup (15-4) at 2 p.m. Saturday at Kentlake High School. The winner will take on the Camas-Olympia survivor for the district championship at 6 p.m.

The semifinalists have automatically clinched the district’s top four seeds to the Nov. 16-17 state tournament at the Yakima Valley SunDome.

Coach Eric Han liked how his team scrambled back against G-K in the quarterfinal match, atoning for last year’s loss to the Eagles in district play.

“The girls played hard and with a lot of grit,” he said. “The practice leading up to districts really reflected how well we played. Graham-Kapowsin always peaks at postseason. They played us very tough but we pulled it out in four with a revenge win with some great defense.”

Against G-K, Kentridge’s Zaiah Calvin had 15 kills and 12 digs despite battling a severe cold. Kate Wick, a 6-foot-1 senior outside hitter who has committed to Western Washington University, finished with nine kills and eight digs. Austin Ibale, the Chargers’ 5-10 senior setter who is scholarship bound to Seattle Pacific University, delivered 23 assists and eight digs.

Nellie Escandon came up with 20 digs, and Madeline Gooding produced 11 kills and five blocks.

The Chargers, the North Puget Sound League Cascade Division champions, are playing in honor of two men who have passed away.

“The team has dealt with a little adversity, losing our statistician Bob Poyneer last year and then this past summer losing our athletic director, Eric Anderson,” Han said. “The girls are proud to be representing KR and the Kentridge family.”

For Han, who is in his fourth season at the helm, it’s been a magical season.

Last season, Kentridge went 15-9, going deep in the district playoffs before Kennedy Catholic denied the Chargers a state berth, the No. 7 spot, on final-match night.

This season, the Chargers have broken through.

“Each year we get stronger as we continue playing,” said Ibale, a four-year varsity player.

Eric Han, in his fourth season as Kentridge coach, has his team playing at a high level. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

Eric Han, in his fourth season as Kentridge coach, has his team playing at a high level. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

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