It played out like a game of cat and mouse.
The Kentwood High volleyball team has been on that kind of run the last four years, often appearing to toy with its opponents before finishing them off. And Wednesday night’s South Puget Sound League North Division showdown against rival Kentridge was no different.
The Conquerors once again put their vast and powerful offensive arsenal on display, defusing countless Kentridge spurts on the way to dispatching the Chargers in three games, 25-19, 25-19, 25-15, in a match that lasted slightly longer than an hour.
Returning league MVP Jessie Genger led the way for the Conquerors with 15 kills, and senior outside hitter Lauren Campbell did plenty of damage herself, racking up 14 kills. Many of those kills came courtesy of setter Stephanie Shumaker, who continued to be the diminutive spark to the high-powered Kentwood machine, dishing up 36 assists.
It’s those hitting choices Shumaker has at her disposal that once again proved to be the difference against Kentridge. If Shumaker wasn’t delivering to Genger or Campbell, there always seemed to be another Conqueror ready to step up and throw down another kill.
“I don’t need to worry about making the perfect pass to Jessie or Lauren, I can set anywhere,” Shumaker said. “It just comes from the flow. But it really matters what the blockers look like, too.”
It was Kentwood’s 48th straight SPSL North victory. The Conquerors haven’t dropped a league match since Sept. 23, 2004 against Auburn Riverside. During that span, they’ve won 150 of the 155 games they’ve played.
With the win, Kentwood (4-0 in league, 13-1 overall) moved one step closer to its fourth straight SPSL North crown. Kentridge (2-1, 6-3), which came into the night riding a five-match winning streak, was led by the 14 kills of Ashley Nguyen and 19 assists from Marissa Fujimoto.
As for the four-year run of dominance, it’s not something that enters the Conquerors’ minds, Genger said.
“It’s really important to win in league to put us in good position for the postseason,” said Genger, who plans to play in college next year, though she hasn’t decided where. “But we try not to think about the streak. We just want to get better and play our best volleyball.”
Wednesday night, the flawless play came in spurts for the Conquerors. Kentwood took a quick 9-2 advantage in the opener, but was unable to put away a scrappy Kentridge bunch. The Chargers fought back to 21-18 on consecutive kills by Nguyen, but was unable to get any closer.
Kentridge continued to remain close in the second game, methodically working a 16-16 tie, when Shumaker found Campbell and Genger for consecutive kills, which ultimately helped the Conquerors pull away.
The Chargers again were within striking distance in the finale, closing the deficit to 16-13 on a kill from Jaclyn Onosko. But like a cat teasing a mouse, the Conquerors took control. Campbell put away another resounding kill, pushing the lead to 17-13, then served up an ace as the lead bulged to 18-13. A block by Kentwood’s Katie Grajewski, followed by three straight Kentridge hitting errors, helped the Conquerors push their lead to an insurmountable 23-13.
“I feel like that’s the story of how it goes when we play (Kentwood),” Kentridge coach Liz Quitiquit said. “We do well at first, we can hang with them during different parts of the game, but we have trouble putting together a whole match.”
• ALSO: Kent-Meridian (4-0) continued its surge on Wednesday, upending Auburn (0-3) in four games, 19-25, 25-11, 25-23, 25-22. Charene O’Hara collected 10 kills and six blocks for the Royals, and Davina Fuiava dished up 24 assists. Skyler Atkinson led the Trojans with 17 kills, followed by Michelle Ernsdorff (12 kills). … Tahoma (1-3) finally broke into the win column in SPSL North play, cruising past Jefferson (0-4) in three games, 25-22, 25-13, 25-22. Robyn Hwang and Maria Bahlenhorst tallied nine kills apiece for the Bears while senior setter Mackenzie Cles dished out 26 assists. Morgann Green led the way for the Raiders, pounding out a match-high 11 kills. … Kentlake’s three-match winning streak came to an end as Puyallup swept the Falcons, 25-14, 25-20, 25-18. Jennifer Barber paced Kentlake (3-0 in league, 6-2 overall) with 21 digs. … With star Brooke Bray back in fold, Auburn Riverside (2-1, 3-3) rolled past had out a match-high 37 assists.