Imbler head coach Jennifer Teeter said there’s less pressure playing as an underdog.

Saturday, her Panthers thrived in that role in the match that mattered most and earned a state playoff berth.

Allie Slater led the way with 13 kills and 18 digs, and Imbler rallied to finish the decisive final set on an 11-1 run to stun Union, 25-21, 13-25, 25-20, 14-25, 15-10, in the No. 2 vs. No. 3 match at the Wapiti League district tournament at Quinn Coliseum.

“They’re a young team,” Slater said of her teammates, most of whom were not on the team that made a run to the title match a year ago. “Most of them haven’t been (to the playoffs) yet. It’s a different opportunity. Everyone was doubting us, sometimes we’d doubted ourselves, so we didn’t think it was actually something that would be a possibility. But once we got here it hit reality that we can do it. We can do anything.”

The win gave the Panthers the league’s second automatic bid to the state playoffs, which start next weekend. It also left the Bobcats on the bubble, waiting to see if they’ll be able to snag one of the state’s two at-large berths. Union was in a very similar position a year ago and missed out on state.

See the full story in the Oct. 23 edition of The Observer.