Dating back to last season, Liberty High School’s volleyball team has gotten out to blazing hot starts. This year, they’re now 6-0 and took down Interlake 3-0 for their third KingCo win in a row.
For the fourth consecutive match, the Liberty Patriots have taken down their opponent in three straight sets. Its latest victim? The Interlake Saints went down 3-0 on Sept. 20.
“They fought. Kind of got down in the first couple sets. We found a way to win the game even though it wasn’t pretty all the time. They showed a lot of heart,” said Head Coach Shea O’Brien.
Outside hitter Layne Ford was proud of the style of volleyball Liberty was able to play in the win: “We definitely picked up our energy toward the end and started playing our brand of volleyball. When we communicate, we play a lot better.”
The 3-0 score doesn’t show or give credit to how tough the Saints played. For a team that hasn’t won a set since October 2022, they gave the Patriots all they could handle.
“Every game is a game, that’s why they play ‘em. I think it’s a good experience for the girls. I like being in KingCo because we don’t have a game off,” said O’Brien.
In the first set over the first six points, Liberty had a 4-2 lead and seemed to be on the right track. But the Saints went on an eight point run in the middle of the first set to tie it at 15-15.
“It was a bit of a roller coaster, but they’re figuring it out,” O’Brien said.
Interlake even got to set point 24-21, putting a lot of pressure on the home side.
After a timeout the Patriots came out and won the next four points, taking a 25-24 lead. The Saints kept fighting and tied the game at 25-25.
“It was a little nerve-racking and kept us on out toes. But we had a moment where we came into the huddle and said, ‘We gotta pull together.’ I think we did that and showed grit and intensity,” Ford said.
Pull together they did, and the Patriots won their 26th and 27th points, closing out the first set.
“I think they made a couple of good plays and we got in our own heads a little bit. I reminded them who they are, and what they do is going to win the game, not what the other team does,” O’Brien said.
The second set got out to a strong string of play from Liberty, winning the first six points, leading 6-0. But the Patriots let Interlake back in the set multiple times. At two different points in the second set, Interlake closed the gap to four or less points. Midway through the score was 16-14, with Liberty having the slight edge.
But similar to the first set, the Patriots got going and scored the next nine out of 11 points to close out set two, 25-16.
In set three, Interlake led 2-0 and 3-4. Then Liberty took off, jumping to a 12-5 lead. The Patriots were not going to be stopped, winning the third set by the largest margin of the night, 25-12.
The Patriots couldn’t have asked for a better start to the year — 6-0 through your first handful of matches takes the whole team. On the coaching side, O’Brien sees the team coming together: “Everyone is bought in. It’s a really great group of girls. They come to the gym everyday practicing hard, they all really like each other. We all get along and they’re having fun.”
Last season, the Patriots also started 5-0 before losing three of their next six. This year the vibe is different with the team.
“It’s playing our brand of volleyball. It doesn’t matter what team’s on the other side of the court,” Ford said.
Going into the district tournament a year ago, Liberty was the fourth seed going into the district tournament. After beating Hazen, the Patriots fell to Bellevue and were eliminated by Lake Washington. To make districts, the Pats have to be comfortable not being comfortable. “We just can’t be comfortable. We gotta stay working hard every time, we have to be the hardest working team in the league,” O’Bried said.
“We’ve been working towards it (playoffs) all season. We want it, but we gotta want it bad enough as we get into our league season,” Ford said.
The talent is there, Liberty just has to keep on rolling.