Redmond — Entering into Saturday’s championship, the North Douglas Warriors had one mission in mind: Bring home their first state title. They’d finished runner-up back in 2016 and 1984, but those were the closest things they had to winning a state title in program history. St. Paul entered looking for a three peat, with the first two being the only state titles in school history. The birth of a dynasty was not the cards, but the rise of a program and their first state title certainly was.
We got a great opening set, with St. Paul taking an early 5-1 on the Warriors. Trailing 8-4, North Douglas went on a 5-0 run to take a 9-8 lead on St. Paul. With some battling back and forth, North Douglas would go on a 5-0 run to take a 16-13 lead halfway through the opening set. Trailing 22-19, St. Paul would tie the match on a 3-0 run, but North Douglas would go on their own 3-0 run to finish off the set 25-22 and take a 1-0 lead on the Buckaroos. In the second set, the teams would battle back and forth early until St. Paul would catch fire, taking a 9-8 lead and blowing open a 14-8 lead, but North Douglas responded with their own run that closed the gap to 14-12 St. Paul. The Buckaroos would fight with a 5-0 run to make a 19-12 lead. After North Douglas would close the lead down to 22-18, St. Paul would close out the set 25-18 and tie the match at one set apiece.
The third set started competitive at a 5-5 tie and looked certain to go deep again, but North Douglas would have other plans to seize the moment. After they go on a 5-0 run to take a 10-5 lead and force a St. Paul timeout, they would go on a 15-2 tear that was spearheaded by great front line play and St. Paul mistakes, ultimately closed out with four consecutive aces by Halli Vaughn to finish off the set 25-7. The Warriors had popped the St. Paul bubble and found themselves a set away from their first state title in school history.
Still riding the momentum from the third set, North Douglas opened up on a 5-0 run in the fourth set, eventually extending it to 8-2 and forcing another St. Paul timeout. The Warriors would continue to roll, opening up their advantage to 13-3 and 16-6 in the set. Trailing 20-10, St. Paul would find some momentum and be able to close it to 22-16, but a hitting error would be their nail on the coffin, handing North Douglas a 3-1 win and their first state title in school history. The Warriors had a wide variety of statistical standouts, including Brooke McHaffie’s seven kills and five blocks, Halli Vaughn’s nine kills, six aces, and two blocks, and Samantha McDowell’s 29 assists. Its a title run that consisted of wins over Perrydale, Joeseph, Crane, and the ultimate 1A power St. Paul and breaking up their dynasty bid.
Looking To Next Season
In a very, very early 2022 preview, North Douglas has an uphill battle to their title defense, shedding four seniors and only returning four juniors to the roster. They have promise with returning players Asia Ward, Brooke McHaffie, and Brooklyn Williams, alongside their their talented, defensive focused coach Emily Reed. We won’t really know how they’ll look until next season, but I think they’ll be just fine and back in the hunt again for another 1A title.
As for St. Paul, they return a wealth of experience with only one senior headed out this season, reasonably making them a heavy, early favorite for the 2022 state title. Led by returners Anabelle Davidson, Stella Koch, and Meredith Coleman, Buckaroos Head Coach Lesli Hiller has much to look forward to next season with her talented, experience heavy roster returning.