Camas volleyball thrillers

Papermakers are heading back to state, their first year in 4A

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Sophie Jacobson had the perfect touch at the net for the Papermakers Wednesday. Camas beat Union in five sets for the district championship. State begins Friday at Saint Martin's University.

The Union Titans brought plenty of tricks to the Camas warehouse on Halloween, but they couldn’t scare the Papermakers.

Camas defeated their Lacamas Lake rivals 17-25, 25-13, 25-23, 19-25, 15-9 in a volleyball thriller that had fans on the edge of their seats watching the Papermakers rise from the grave and grab the 4A district championship.

“It’s the most adrenaline I’ve ever felt,” said sophomore outside hitter Lauren Harris. “We just wanted to get to everything for the team. I think that really showed on the court.”

Harris delivered some heart palpitating hits all night long. She racked up 13 kills in the contest to go with three blocks at the net.

Harris single-handedly brought Camas back from the dead after the team fell behind by seven points in the fourth set. After some thunderous kills by Lauren Neff, the Papermakers crept back within three. But then a net violation sent them back into a tailspin and they lost their advantage.

It would come down to one more game, winner take all.

“We just took a deep breath and said ‘we got this,’” Harris said. “We’re a family and we can pull through.”

Union grabbed the first two points in the race to 15, and Camas was already playing catch up. Neff nailed another block at the net, and Natalia Zea, Brindl Langley and Sophie Jacobson fired off kills. Suddenly, the scale tipped and the Papermakers applied more weight.

“No matter how tough it gets out there, you got to stay positive,” Zea said. “When we talk and we cheer ourselves up, we’re unstoppable.”

Zea slammed home three more winners, and it was game, set, match for Camas.

“Everybody fights hard on the pass and the set,” Zea said. “It’s my job to kill the ball.”

Zea finished with 8 kills, 7 digs and 2 blocks. Langley added 13 kills, 27 digs and 4 aces. Abbie Younkin anchored the attack with 43 assists, 22 digs and 2 aces. Abby Young gathered 31 digs. Neff owned the net with 8 kills and 2 blocks. Jacobson fired 5 kills and 3 blocks.

Camas won two five-set matches and finished in second place at the regional tournament in Kent. After thrashing Kentridge in the opening round Friday, the Papermakers rallied to defeat Olympia 23-25, 23-25, 25-17, 25-21, 15-9.

“To beat the defending state champions after we were down by two sets just emphasized what I’ve known about this team all along,” said head coach Julie Nidick. “They have the heart and determination to be the best team in Camas history. They wanted to get to state and they knew a win would be their best opportunity. That was all the motivation they needed.”

Langley delivered 21 kills and 24 digs. Harris had 14 kills and 10 digs. Younkin contributed 49 assists and 6 digs. Young added 16 digs and 3 aces. Zea nailed 7 kills and 4 blocks. Neff netted 6 kills and 5 blocks.

Camas outlasted Emerald Ridge in the semifinals 25-21, 21-25, 25-15, 23-25, 15-11 Saturday, but lost to Bellermine Prep in the championship match.

The Papermakers are on their way to the state tournament for the ninth year in a row and their first year in the largest classification. The games begin Friday, at St. Martin’s University in Lacey. Camas faces Monroe in the first round, at 3:15 p.m.

“Beating Olympia was the pinnacle moment for our team so far, but I feel like we can achieve more this weekend,” Younkin said. “We went into this as nobodies and we would like to come out as somebodies. We want to be a team people remember for giving it their all every single time.”

Younkin is reminiscing about her father Rick, who passed away in January due to heart failure.

“Volleyball is what he lived for. He’s known these girls for a very long time,” Younkin said. “This is his season.”