Arlington volleyball wins district berth

SHORELINE — Arlington volleyball has been through dark days.

There were seasons with one or two wins over smaller schools and there were seasons, like last year, with no wins at all.

But thanks to the persistence of a core group of seniors who have stuck with the program and the tutelage of second-year head coach Cari Britt, Arlington can officially call itself a playoff team. By defeating Shorewood on the Thunderbirds' court 15-25, 25-19, 24-26, 25-22, 15-11, Arlington earned a first-round district game against league powerhouse Monroe.

"It is amazing that our team has earned it," said senior hitter Bree Covey after her Eagles won the play-in game. "We've done better this year than we have in the last five years combined."

Before Arlington moved up to 4A this season, the team usually had an automatic berth into the 3A districts. This season they accumulated a 3-5 league record (6-8 overall), finishing ahead of Lake Stevens, Cascade and Oak Harbor for the right to advance to the tournament at Marysville-Pilchuck's Jim Linden Fieldhouse.

The girls still played a little like underdogs though. They gave up the first five points en route to a Shorewood win in the first game, getting no closer than a 7-4 gap in the early going.

But by the second game's 12th point, Arlington led 9-3 thanks to a team effort that included kills from four different players.

The third game proved a battle for momentum. Arlington trailed early by as many as six points before battling back to tie the game 17-17. The girls exchanged leads four times before Shorewood finally won in extra points 26-24.

Serving errors bedeviled both teams in the fourth game. Another 9-3 Arlington lead dissolved into a tie, but back-to-back kills by Covey for the Eagles' 17th and 18th points gave Arlington some breathing room and the team pulled away to retie the meeting. After going up 4-3 on another one of Covey's 19 kills, Arlington never looked back as they marched through game five for the win.

Britt expressed her pride in her team after the comeback win.

"It means a lot," she said. "I told them this team has gone down in Arlington history for the most wins in the last five years."

After a pause, she added, "I stopped looking after five years."

Five seniors — Covey, Casey Swinney, Allison Taylor, Kelsey Czaban and Emery Zednick — have been with the volleyball team through the thin times and take on Monroe Nov. 12 at 4 p.m.

"This year, we fought for it," Covey said. "This is the team I want to go to state with."

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