Auburn Riverside earns state berth | Prep volleyball

Carson Heilborn and Brenna Bruil block a shot by a Union player at the district tourney. - Rachel Ciampi/Auburn Reporter
Carson Heilborn and Brenna Bruil block a shot by a Union player at the district tourney.
— image credit: Rachel Ciampi/Auburn Reporter

Brenna Bruil remembers the 2009 volleyball season well.

As a freshman on the Auburn Riverside squad, Bruil remembers watching as the Ravens fought their way to a third-place finish in the state 4A tournament.

“I remember watching all the girls and how amazing it was to see them accomplish their goals,” said Bruil, now a senior captain for the Ravens. “This year, myself and the other seniors just wanted to make it to state and work as hard as we could. And we did. We didn’t stop fighting. It made me realize how special state is. And after watching my freshman year, it’s great to be able to play and experience that.”

Bruil and the rest of the Ravens get a chance to experience state play when they take on top-ranked Mead of Spokane at 5:15 p.m. Friday at St. Martin’s University in Lacey.

Auburn Riverside earned a state berth with an impressive 8-0 finish in the South Puget Sound League North 4A race.

“That’s a big deal,” coach Christine Leverenz said. “I didn’t expect that for sure, but I knew we could do it. We had a lot of our tough competition with the Kent schools toward the end and our rivalry with Auburn. I think it helps with our tough preseason games, like Emerald Ridge, Graham-Kapowsin, Puyallup and Rogers. I think that helped with league because we were used to playing at that high level, and we just kept doing it twice a week. We just got up for the challenge.”

The team responded in the postseason as well, earning a trip to state with a 2-2 performance in West Central District 4A play last weekend.

Leverenz and Bruil credit team unity as the key ingredient in the Ravens’ recipe for success this season.

“It’s chemistry,” Leverenz said. “If I could bottle the chemistry this team has, I would have the key to success every year. Their chemistry is really good. There is no big ego or any kid who stands out. We knew which kids are our big hitters and who will get us a kill, but I don’t think there is one kid who holds themselves above the others.”

Bruil added: “When we play together, nothing can stop us, and I think we realized that midway through the season. We have a lot of heart. We just click. There is no drama. Nobody is trying to be better than the other.”

The Ravens will attempt to kick things off with a win against Mead, which has won seven state 4A volleyball titles.

“I’m really trying not to get them too nervous about it,” Leverenz said. “Most of these kids play club volleyball, so I’m just comparing it to a high stakes club tournament, like a national qualifier. You just have to go in and play your game and play for each other. That really means something to these kids.”

“We’re just going to go in and just play our best,” Bruil added. “Just the chance to play at state – you can’t ask for anything else. We just want to end the season knowing we fought hard.”


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