Expectations are running high over in Turnbull Gym. And, with good reason.
Not only does Head Coach Travis Mager welcome back the heart of the team that a year ago topped all others in amassing victories over the past decade, finishing 12-6 overall and on the doorstep of the Division 1A Tri-District tournament, but there’s still room to grow.
“We’ve only got one senior,” Mager said, eye-beams on high.
Back to anchor the front line, prowling the net with height and a formidable lefty-righty combination are the Wolverines twin towers, juniors Allie Galt and Madi Kincaid. By their side will be the team’s most athletically gifted player, Elli Wood, who, as a freshman, displayed an impressive ability to get up in the air and deliver a lethal blow.
Also returning to the lineup is Taylor Turnbull, heir apparent for the “setter” position, a role that she grew comfortable with a year ago, and who will have three seasoned veterans that are well-versed with what to do with a well-placed pass. Mager, now in his 10th year at the helm on a program on the rise, has another five players on the varsity squad to compete for or share two other positions in the starting rotation.
First-year coach Nadine Varsovia has about a dozen players on the junior varsity squad who, with a little time, attention and fine-tuning, will help keep the program at its elevated pitch.
Like all other Friday Harbor athletic teams, the Wolverines volleyball squad will be competing in Division 2B this season, no longer matched up against the likes of Lynden Christian, Nooksack Valley or Meridian, with position in post-season play on the line. But with Division 2A Sedro Woolley and Coupeville lying in wait, as well as two league contests against La Conner waiting in the wings, the Wolverines 13-game regular-season schedule will be anything but a cakewalk.
With the loss to graduation of Kendra Meeker, a fiery competitor and team catalyst in 2013, there also remains the question of who will step up and assume the leadership role. Experience and talent can take you only so far, and a team must be motivated and ready to perform each and every match if it expects to come away with a win, Mager said.
“We’re still young, but we have a really well-balanced team,” he said. “I’d say the biggest hurdle is that they’ll need to find a way to keep their intensity up in each and ever match.”
Still, nothing succeeds like success, and it’s a safe bet that the Wolverines will find a way to continue their winning ways.