Last year, Issaquah’s volleyball team was young. This season aspirations are running high, and for good reason, according to sixth-year head coach Todd Parsons.
“Over the off-season, this group prepared and trained like no other team I have ever had at Issaquah,” he said. “They really committed to becoming the best team they could and return Issaquah back to the top.”
The Eagles finished last season with a 7-16 overall record after having to reload most of their roster from the previous season.
The team caught fire toward the end of the season, however, finishing fourth in KingCo 3A tournament and one win shy of advancing to the state tournament at the Sea-King District tournament.
Five starters return from last year’s team, including senior outside hitter Stephanie Jones, senior libero Kayla Schwisow, sophomore outside hitter Rachel Roeder, sophomore outside hitter Sarah Hanna and sophomore setter Riley Sorenson.
The team also gets back senior defensive specialist Kristen Webb who missed her entire junior season with a serious illness. Other returners include senior Kim Greene, junior Chrissy Dickinson, junior Maria Tilden and sophomore Maddy Emerson. The Eagles also have two key newcomers, who Parsons said will likely start. Alyssa Schultz is a 6-foot-3 transfer from AC Davis in Yakima, and Stephanie Stoll is a 6-foot-2 middle hitter Parsons described as a great athlete.
“The key to this group is gelling together the talent we have in a very quick time frame,” Parsons said. “We have a very tall team, but we need to get that height to be able to pass the volleyball.”
Issaquah, which finished third in state in 2005 and fifth in 2006, is ranked as high as No. 6 in some state polls.
“This year should be very exciting for Issaquah volleyball, and we’re excited to get it going,” Parsons said.
Issaquah began its season earlier this week facing second-ranked Kentwood Tuesday and Liberty on Thursday. The Eagles travel to Rogers in Puyallup on Thursday, Sept. 18.
The Eastlake volleyball program is coming off one of its strongest seasons in a long time. The Wolves earned a third place finish in the KingCo 4A with an 11-3 record and finished one win shy of advancing to what would have been only the third trip in school history.
“We were in the losers’ bracket and battled all the way back through,” third-year coach Gaylene Page said. “But I was really, really proud of us to get that far.”
Eastlake returns a solid core from last year’s team, including three seniors and one junior.
Among the group of returners are co-captains Alyssa Charlston and Lauren Magnus. Charlston, a junior middle blocker, stands 6-foot-1, while Magnus, a senior outside hitter, provides more height at 5-foot-10.
Senior Ellie Martinez, a 5-foot-10 middle blocker, and senior Natalie Lambert, a 5-foot-6 outside hitter, also return.
“I have a good core group coming back, but I still think we’re a little bit inexperienced,” Page said.
Younger players will need to fill in at the setter and libero positions, where the Wolves saw their largest losses from last year. Three juniors expect to make immediate impacts at those positions are Claire Salmon, Ashlee Fluhrer and Emilee Ringel.
“It’s interesting because we have a good balance all the way through, which makes practices really competitive for us,” Page said.
Eastlake warmed up last week hosting the Emerald City Invitational. The round robin tournament featured Central Kitsap, Bellarmine Prep and Hawaiian powerhouse Punahou. The Wolves finished the tournament with a 1-5 record, splitting with Central Kitsap and losing two close matches to Bellarmine. Punahou, Barack Obama’s alma mater, dominated the invitational with a 6-0 record.
“That was a really good place to just kind of measure ourselves up and see where we’re at the very beginning,” Page said. “We were very competitive for the first half, and I was really, really pleased with how we played.”
Eastlake began its regular season last night against non-league Bellevue. Page said she likes what she’s seen from her team so far, noting she fully expects her team to be in playoff contention again as the postseason approaches.
“I always talk to them about trying to peak in the end,” she said. “Preseason really isn’t as important as where we are in the end. It’s going to take us all season to get where we need to be, and that’s OK.”
The Skyline volleyball team was one victory from the state tournament last season. A 3-1 loss to Mount Si in the 3A Sea-King District tournament, however, ended the Spartans’ bid for their fourth state appearance in a decade.
Now, entering a newly formed KingCo 4A, the Spartans are hoping for a return.
“Of course everybody’s saying we want to get back to the state tournament and I think we’ll be in position to do that,” said seventh-year head coach Mark Peterson said.
In order to achieve the goal, Skyline will have to have some younger players step into vacated positions.
Only five returners come back from last year’s varsity squad, including seniors Lindsey Kim (middle blocker), Alex Petroff (outside hitter), Emily Hutchings (outside hitter), Tinesse Togia (libero) and junior Amy Ziegler (middle blocker).
Three underclassmen are expected to come and fill in at setter after losing three-year starter Kendra Kisling to graduation.
Juniors Megan Clark and Sam Sanghvi, along with freshman Madison Stoa, are all expected to make impacts. Other newcomers to this year’s varsity squad include junior Olivia Marquardt (outside hitter), sophomore Paige Haas (defensive specialist), sophomore Anya Kamber (defensive specialist) and six-foot freshman Maddie Magee (outside hitter).
While the team is young, Peterson said he believes with time, things will work out just fine.
“It’s just a matter of the girls getting time to be able to play with each other,” he said.
There are ramblings of post-season play for the Spartans, but with playing in a difficult league that features many 4A powerhouses, Peterson wants to keep the focus simple for now.
“We haven’t necessarily talked about a specific goal yet, but we’ve talked about our goal as always being every time we practice, every time we play, we’re going to get better,” he said.
Eastside Catholic Crusaders
There is a buzz going on the Eastside Catholic volleyball court this season. Not only is the team getting to play on a brand new court at its new Sammamish campus, but expectations are high of what the Crusaders can do.
“We look to be one of the stronger teams in Metro this year,” head coach Andrew Ness said. “We also have a new school and new gym, and will be playing with a lot of pride.”
After finishing second in the Metro 3A and one win shy of a state tournament berth, Eastside Catholic returns a veteran team to the floor in 2008.
The Crusaders bring back senior outside hitter Ellie Radich, junior outside hitter Brooke Bachesta, junior libero Sarah Pacottine and sophomore outside hitter Cami Silverman.
Impact newcomers include: freshman middle blocker Kameron McLain and freshman setter Emilee Derus.
Eastside Catholic was ranked as high as No. 8 in class 3A preseason polls. The Crusaders began their season with a 3-0 victory over Interlake on Monday.