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Lakewood volleyball prepares for season
LAKEWOOD — The Lakewood volleyball team has been training for weeks to prepare for the new season and their Sept. 6 matchup against rival Archbishop Murphy High School will be their first game of the year.
Only three players graduated in June, so the varsity crew is made-up of mainly returners.
“We’ve got six returning players — five sophomores and one freshman,” said head coach Tasha Kryger. “We aren’t really rebuilding anymore. I think we have a really good team.”
Lakewood’s volleyball team has been competitive in recent years and advanced to districts in 2011, although they lost in the quarterfinals to Archbishop Murphy and Anacortes high schools.
“Our goal at this point is to make it back to districts and win one to play on Saturday,” said Kryger. “We want to be in the top three in the conference.”
Kryger mentioned a number of returning players who together bring years of playing time and skill.
“Kendall O’Kinsella is a junior and setter. We are also going to make her an outside hitter,” said Kryger, of the floor captain. “Danielle Small is our only returning senior, so she is going to be key. Skylar Cannon is a junior and another outside hitter that I’m really excited about.”
Larissa Block, a junior, is a newcomer who Kryger is particularly impressed with so far. “She was with us last year but couldn’t play due to an ankle injury,” she said. “But she is back and her and Skylar are hitting really well from the outside. They are both really quick.”
The varsity team includes eight juniors, which gives the Cougars a unique advantage going into this season.
“Anything they are building up this year, they will be able to use next year as well,” said Kryger.
O’Kinsella agreed. “My goal is that we make it to districts this year and play well next year,” she said. “I’m really excited to just continue to grow as a team and build our program for the future.”
O’Kinsella and Kryger noted that many of the players practiced together during summer open gym sessions to build not only skill, but a sense of camaraderie.
“We did a lot of off-season training, summer open gyms, fundraisers and tournaments and that sort of thing,” said O’Kinsella. “We definitely play as a family. We aren’t six individuals, but one team.”
The Cougars’ sense of family was strengthened recently when a freshman member of their junior varsity team, Reille Jones, suffered the tragedy of her family’s home being damaged by fire on Aug. 25.
“The girls are really rallying around her right now,” said Kryger. “They took her back-to-school shopping to show their support. We really want them to see the importance of being a good citizen and urge them to volunteer.”
If anyone needs help, the team would like to do some more volunteer work in the community, said Kryger.
The Cougars face the Wildcats in an away game on Sept. 6, at Archbishop Murphy High School, beginning at 7 p.m.