When Megan McNannay took over for departed Pullman volleyball coach Kali Gesser, she knew she had a special team.
Pullman’s new boss is good friends with the former coach, and she knew many of the players from coaching in the club ranks.
Now, the Greyhounds are headed to the Washington Class 2A state tournament for the fifth consecutive season, with high hopes for a deep run.
Pullman (15-2) opens against Steilacoom (18-2) at 11:45 a.m. Friday on Court 1 at Nicholson Pavilion on the campus of Central Washington University.
“It feels like it was our goal all along, so I expected this when I started with this team,” McNannay said. “I knew the talent that we had. I think we can go really far in this tournament.
“The way we’re playing right now makes us really excited.”
Colfax (13-5) also is in the postseason in the 2B ranks, and will play Brewer at 1:30 p.m. today on Court 1 at the Yakima Valley Sun Dome.
In preparation for State, the Greyhounds took to the internet to find videos on their potential opponents. McNannay said her players did the legwork on the scouting without being asked to.
“I have a lot of dedicated kids that went on YouTube and searched out videos on these teams,” she said. “We’ve all kind of collaborated.”
Pullman flew through Great Northern League play this season, dropping only two sets to league opponents. The Hounds tallied 12 sweeps during the season, including a 3-0 win against Ephrata in a postseason crossover game that clinched their state berth.
“Everything just seemed to click that day,” McNannay said. “I think we played the best we’ve played all season long — came out really fired up and expecting to win.”
The Greyhounds didn’t have it as easy in their five-set win against Cheney in the Great Northern League title match.
In the rollercoaster of a match, Cheney walloped Pullman 25-13 in the first set. The Greyhounds then took the next two before dropping the fourth.
The fifth set was all Pullman, 15-3, for the GNL crown.
“I think dropping the fourth made us angry, so we came out with a vengeance to put it away and get the title,” McNannay said.
Mikayla Uhlenkott paced the Greyhounds with 29 kills against Cheney. The junior outside/right side hitter later was named the MVP of the GNL.
“No player I’ve seen in the state this season hits it like she does,” McNannay said. “She’s 6-feet tall and I think she said she has a 27-inch vertical. She just gets so high up and sees the court so well.”
But the Greyhounds are far from a one-player show.
Senior Maddy Oelke is another solid hitter who “hardly ever makes any mistakes,” and junior Hannah Gecas was the only libero to make first-team all-GNL.
Add in setter Addison Hawes, who tallied 44 assists against Cheney, and the Greyhounds could be hard to beat.
“Addie, my setter, she’s the coach on the court,” McNannay said. “She runs my offense (and) sees things I spend a lot of time talking about.”
McNannay said Steilacoom has a 6-4 middle blocker and a left-handed setter who could pose problems, but the Greyhounds are ready and itching to get back to playing.
McNannay said the Hounds also are playing for their old coach, who she still talks to regularly.
“I’ve inherited a really good team that was so well-coached,” McNannay said. “Kali was a good friend of mine and I still talk to her almost weekly. I want to do this for Kali too.”
Stephan Wiebe can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter at @StephanSports.