High school sports: Fall season arrives in August

The Columbia River Rapids have opened practice for the 2022 volleyball season, which means they have opened defense of their 2021 state championship. Photo by Paul Valencia
The Columbia River Rapids have opened practice for the 2022 volleyball season, which means they have opened defense of their 2021 state championship. Photo by Paul Valencia

Columbia River volleyball among the three fall sports teams that won state titles in 2021

The state championships are in the record books. 

The Columbia River Rapids.

The Camas Papermakers.

The Seton Catholic Cougars.

All state champions in fall sports in 2021.

On Monday, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s fall sports (other than football) held their first practices.

For three Clark County teams, that means the first official day of defending their titles.

“We handle the challenge of being defending state champs just like we handle all challenges that come our way — by acknowledging it, focusing on what is in our control, and getting to work,” said Breanne Smedley, head coach for Columbia River volleyball.

The Rapids play in the toughest league in the state, the toughest district. Through that competition, they reached the peak of Class 2A volleyball a year ago. The Rapids beat league-rival Ridgefield in the state championship match. Ridgefield, by the way, had won the previous two state tournaments.

The Camas Papermakers won the program’s third state championship in girls soccer last November. This week, they opened the defense of their title with the first official day of soccer practice. Photo courtesy Kris Cavin
The Camas Papermakers won the program’s third state championship in girls soccer last November. This week, they opened the defense of their title with the first official day of soccer practice. Photo courtesy Kris Cavin

In soccer, it was the Camas Papermakers who refused to be stopped at the Class 4A level. Camas topped Issaquah in penalty kicks to claim the state title. It is the program’s third state championship and second since 2016.

In cross country, Seton Catholic had two runners finish in the top 10 overall, and the rest of the team was close behind, claiming the Class 1A state title. Seton Catholic had only one senior on that team, as well.

Still, the 2021 champions must perform in 2022 if they want to make another run, repeat.

“We don’t see this as much as a challenge as it is a chance to compete against everyone’s best,” Smedley said.

Surely, as defending state champions, every opponent will be that much more motivated. Everyone will want to beat Camas soccer, or Columbia River volleyball, for example

“It’s a great opportunity for us to ensure we are being diligent in our preparation and not overlooking anyone,” Smedley said. 

The 2021 season was special, but, Smedley noted, the Rapids are 0-0 right now.

It is also special to open a season, regardless of what happened the previous year. Varsity athletes work on their crafts throughout the year. Staying in shape is not just an in-season thing for elite athletes.

Even with all the work behind them, and the work ahead of them, Monday’s first official day of practice just feels different. In the best of ways. The season has arrived.

“The first day of practice means opportunity,” Smedley said. “Opportunity to start fresh, create bonds with this year’s team, and set the tone for what this season will look like.”

At Columbia River, the volleyball program has several traditions during the first week, to ensure the incoming freshmen feel welcome and allow the upperclassmen to explore their new roles, Smedley said.

“It’s a fun time where we emphasize the details and get a solid foundation under us that will serve us the rest of the season,” Smedley said.

This year’s state championship dates for fall sports:
Oct 28-29: Slowpitch Softball

Nov. 5: Cross Country

Nov. 10-12: Class 1A, 2B, 1B Volleyball

Nov. 11-12: Girls Swimming and Diving

Nov. 17-19: Class 2A, 3A, 4A Volleyball

Nov. 18-19: Girls Soccer

Football practice started last week. State championship football day for all classifications is Dec. 3.


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