Marysville spikers expect great things

Senior Kate Vavrousek leaps through the air to spike the ball during the Marysville-Pilchuck High School volleyball team’s Aug. 27 practice session. - Kirk Boxleitner
Senior Kate Vavrousek leaps through the air to spike the ball during the Marysville-Pilchuck High School volleyball team’s Aug. 27 practice session.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

MARYSVILLE — Coach Shelly Johnson expects the best from the Marysville-Pilchuck High School volleyball team this year due to their track record, training and years of experience.

“We expect to win the league and our girls should qualify for district,” Johnson said. “We’ve been one of the top four teams in the league and we always qualify for district. Last year was the first year in a few years that we didn’t qualify for state and, even then, we were only out by one position.”

One change in this year’s play that Johnson welcomes is the opportunity to play against teams twice.

“Win or lose, we can take what we learn and plan for the next time,” Johnson said. “You’re not just done in one match.”

Johnson touted the strength of a varsity team made up entirely of juniors and seniors, many of whom have experience on junior varsity. Team captains Katie Peterson and Tiva Akau are both seniors up for the libero position.

“They’re both highly talented and they push each other,” Johnson said. “Whichever one plays libero, the other will become our defense specialist. We’ve got a really solid defense. We have three kids who are all capable of playing libero because they’re so close in experience and talent.”

Johnson cited seniors Sammy Manning and Kate Vavrousek as strong middle blockers. She added that Vavrousek and fellow senior Makiya Nelson are valuable outside hitters.

“We also have our returning setter, Lexi Fitzmaurice, a junior who played varsity last year,” Johnson said. “She’s an important part of the team. I’m really happy with the kids we have this year.”

When asked to name her girls’ toughest competitors for the season, Johnson named three teams.

“Monroe has won the league repeatedly for the past three or four years,” Johnson said. “Last year, we lost to them in the league but beat them in district. Snohomish is always strong and Lake Stevens is much improved, so they should be tough competition this year.”

Johnson noted that a majority of the girls on her team attended a Gold Medal Squared volleyball camp during the last week in July, running eight hours a day for four days.

“It’s a high-level clinic where college coaches train high school players, and one of our coaches has been Mariko Coverdale, a former player of ours,” Johnson said. “She’s on a pro beach circuit and we’re fortunate to have her.”

Johnson also welcomed her new assistant coach this year, Kara Veach, a former assistant coach at Warner Pacific College in Portland, Ore.

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