Eagles soar into districts — Grace Academy finishes 8-4 with sweep of Highland Prep

MARYSVILLE — The six Grace Academy seniors got everything one would want on senior night, sweeping Highland Christian Prep (25-17, 25-22, 25-11), Oct. 27.

"For a first-time coach, I couldn't have asked for a better group of girls," said Grace coach Melissa Thompson, who was recently named Northwest 1B Conference coach of the year. "I am glad to see they are having a great senior season."

Well-placed serving helped the Eagles finish the regular season with an 8-4 conference record and get ready for districts. It was on display again with 18 aces in three games, including four straight by Katie Mittlestaedt in the first game as part of an 8-0 run to help the Eagles take a 16-8 lead that they never relinquished.

Mittlestead, who finished the match with four kills and five aces, was joined by teammate Lauren Krumm as Northwest 1B second team selections.

It was in game 2 that Krumm shined, serving for three consecutive aces to help the Eagles overcome a 12-3 deficit to win 25-22.

"I think that was a really good test of our will and character," Thompson said. "The difference was just relaxing and having fun."

The Eagles committed a number of errors to get in such a hole, but those stopped and they chipped away at the Lady Knights' lead until making the score 23-22 — their first advantage since the score was 1-0.

"I think once they stopped making mistakes, we did tense up a bit and start to worry," said Highland Christian Prep coach Anthony Favors. "And to (the Eagles') credit, they took advantage of that, and that's what good teams do."

Krumm finished the night with 12 assists, six aces and four kills.

While a different player stepped up to make the difference in the first two games, playing consistently well all match was Andi McAulisse,who notched seven aces and five kills.

Thompson and company now head to districts with a Nov. 2 match against Mount Rainier Lutheran, a school that defeated them 3-2 early this season. Thompson pointed out a sense of hope, however, because Grace has avenged each of its other two 3-2 losses this season with a following win.

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