Auburn Riverside boys volleyball crowned state champs

In the club’s third year, they have added some hardware to an already packed trophy case.

When it comes to volleyball, nobody does it quite like Auburn Riverside.

The Ravens’ girls team has been a state qualifying team for the past nine seasons, but now the boys team has added some hardware to the trophy case. The Ravens defeated Roosevelt High School in the Washington High School Boys Volleyball Association state tournament.

“It has been an awesome year,” Head Coach Mike Tienda said.

The boys program has existed for three seasons. Because they are a club sport, scheduling games has been difficult. Yet, despite not being a WIAA-sanctioned sport, a state tournament means a lot to the players.

“I started this program three years ago. Our first year we weren’t successful. Last year we won districts and took third in state. They made a goal to work hard in the offseason. They did and had a great season. It’s awesome and a great feeling,” Tienda said.

Last season, the Ravens placed third. It was a point of emphasis to win this year and avenge the disappointment from the year prior.

“It was definitely a goal from the start,” senior Isaac Salamanca said. “We knew we had to work harder and stay dedicated and take advantage of the time we had.”

For their last game of the season, the Raven seniors played a best-of-five match against the non-seniors. Tienda and assistant coach Anastazia Edmonds have been part of Raven volleyball since 2016 and really developed a strong community-backed program. That could be seen with almost the entire girls volleyball team supporting the boys on senior night.

“It was cool. I like the bond that we have with the girls team. Whenever they have a game, we all pull up and we do the same. It is a sisterhood and brotherhood kind of bond. It is nice to have someone who has our back,” senior Noah Kwon said.

The senior class is special for Tienda — they have been part of the program since its inception and have contributed immensely to the program.

“They mean a lot. Senior nights are one of those things where you see how much a kid has grown. Not just as a volleyball player but as a human being. It is awesome to be a part of… I am so proud of all of them, they have worked so hard,” Tienda said.

Playing a sport that isn’t mainstream, and that isn’t common for high school boys to play in the U.S., has given this group of Ravens a special bond. To have a senior night was also special for these seniors.

At the end of the five-set thriller that saw the seniors win 3-2, the team surprised Tienda with a signed ball in honor of their state championship. But Tienda wasn’t totally caught off-guard with the game ball.

“They did this all on their own. It is funny because they think they were secretive, and that I don’t hear things. But I knew I was getting a ball … It was cute and very thoughtful,” Tienda said.

What is clear is that this program and sport made an impact on these players’ lives that will live with them forever. Kwon couldn’t even put a word on what it meant: “I made my friends through this program. All I have is to say thanks to it,” Kwon said.

“It feels like family,” Salamanca said.

Ben Ray / The Reporter
Auburn Riverside boys volleyball honored along with the seniors.

Ben Ray / The Reporter Auburn Riverside boys volleyball honored along with the seniors.