There’s a saying amongst the Issaquah volleyball team, “Team equals family.” That chemistry and togetherness is something the veteran players for the Eagles take seriously.
The Eagles have four captains, all seniors, that are tasked with the responsibility of keeping that family tradition alive. Middle blocker and opposite Maya Patton, libero Lauren Spencer, middle blocker Sidney Cottrell and setter Olivia Morgan make up the leadership group for the Eagles.
“We have a lot of fight and everyone holds each other accountable,” Spencer said. “We also have a really fun spirit. We’re known as being the loudest bench out there and we want to continue that.”
Last season, the Eagles made it to the state tournament, finishing with a 17-5 overall record and a near-perfect 8-1 regular-season record in the league. Their lone loss of the regular season came at the hands of the Eastlake Wolves, a team that has beaten them in their last three regular-season meetings. This season, the Eagles are ready for a rematch with the Wolves.
“We want revenge for last year,” Patton said. “They’re really the only team that usually beats us in our district. It would feel so good to beat them, and I think we have a good chance (this year).”
The Eagles will be eager to get back to the 4A state tournament, a goal they feel is achievable if they come together as a team.
“I think we can definitely qualify for state if we work hard,” Morgan said. “We just have to make sure we have a solid chemistry with our players.”
While playing for Issaquah volleyball does bring expectations, Patton said the results aren’t the most important thing.
“Every year, we hope to do good, but in the end, it’s all about being a close team and having fun, no matter what,” Patton said.
Patton has committed to playing volleyball at Seattle University. Patton said the Redhawks have a similar family dynamic to the one at Issaquah. She won’t be the only Eagle playing at the collegiate level next year, as Morgan has committed to playing beach volleyball at Tulane University.
Morgan, who played outside and defensive specialist in the past, is playing setter for the first time with the Eagles this season. Because beach volleyball is a partners game, Morgan is very versatile and can play multiple volleyball positions.
“This year we don’t have any setters,” Morgan said. “So I’m now a setter.”
The Eagles have an older team, but one that lacks a lot of varsity experience. The only underclassman on the roster is freshman Annie Lorenz.
‘I’m so excited for (Annie) to be on varsity,” Cottrell said. “I know she’ll keep up with the program and continue the traditions we teach.”
As the four captains head into their senior season, there are mixed emotions. Cottrell said she is excited about the future of the program, but it will be hard to leave.
“We just had our first day and it already feels like it’s ending and I don’t want it to,” Cottrell said. “It’s so sad.”