Girls remember volleyball standout Karlie Kaska who was killed in crash
As girls work on drilling their serves in the Lakewood gym, the slender purple bands around their wrists are hard to see. But then, as they break to listen to coach Monica Rooney dissect their technique, the wristbands become more noticeable.
The bands memorialize Karlie Kaska, the Lakewood volleyball standout who died in a car accident in spring 2006, right before her senior campaign.
Last year we struggled with the loss of a girl who would have been our captain, Rooney said, explaining the purple band on her wrist, which was provided to the team by Kaskas parents. She was our best player and our leader.
Understandably, the loss took its toll on the Cougars season. They finished 3-11 in conference, 4-12 overall.
We struggled with losing her, but we battled through, Rooney added. These kids are amazing.
Much of that 2006 team returns, and with higher expectations. Seven of this years nine varsity players started last year and, according to their coach, the tragedy of their loss is behind them.
Rooney expects three of those returning players to step up into leadership positions on this years team. Junior setter Peyton Mizell returns from an all-Cascade Conference honorable mention season to run the Cougar offense.
She did a very good job and stepped up to be a good floor leader, Rooney said of Mizells sophomore year. Shes a very quiet leader. She leads by example.
Another player, junior Amanda Gregory, is helping the team by adding to her repertoire of skills.
She played middle hitter as a sophomore, and were transitioning her to outside hitter. Were counting on her to kill the ball effectively, Rooney said, explaining, Shes got to hit the middle, hit the line shots.
Middle hitter Aly Stewart is also expected to have a great season in her senior year. Stewart was named second-team all-conference in 2006 and her coach praised her strength in blocking and hitting.
The rest of Lakewoods returning players include seniors Juliet Dvorak and Che Renouard, junior Sarah Boe and sophomore Liliya Kibitskaya.
Junior Jocelyn Shafer is one new face to the varsity squad. The other, senior Tawnya Hulslander, is new to the team. Hulslander comes to the team as a home-schooled student, and has found a place on the team as a middle hitter.
Rooney said she saw a turning point in the teams fortunes during a summer volleyball camp.
Thirty-eight girls attended. It was a very big camp and it has made a big difference in the ability and the desire of the girls. It got them really pumped up, she said. Theyre having fun and working hard.
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