For the Friday Harbor girls volleyball team, this year will be different.
“Last year we were only two sets away from going to the state finals,” says coach Derek Smith, in his second year as head coach this year. “Three-quarters of our varsity team is the same from last year, so I expect them to build on what they learned from last year.”
The girls volleyball team lost just three seniors last year, but picked up six freshmen this fall, to total about 23 members to field the varsity and JV teams.
“Our hopes, of course are to make it to the state finals this year,” said Smith. ”I’m expecting very good things. With the natural ability and talent I’m seeing in the young girls – it’s going to be an amazing next four years – we have high hope for state championships.”
Smith credits the middle school coaches for preparing the girls to play at the high school level. He highlighted hitter Ella Hu and starting outside hitter Kiana Woods as some of the team’s star players this season, adding, “We also have only lost one person from back-row defense, so we have a really solid back row defense, that’s what propelled us through the season last year.”
With seven teams in their league, the Wolverines will play 12 regular league matches, six at home and six away; they’ll also attend two or three of the regional invitational matches before playoffs. Last year, they finished the season third in their league, just behind La Conner and Darrington. And that was with a whole new varsity team.
“We tend to focus on getting everyone to play at their top level of ability, making sure the team gels together as a solid team,” said Smith. The Wolverines’ first match this fall was a home exhibition match against Evergreen Lutheran on Saturday, Sept. 2, a good chance to “work the kinks out” in non-league competition.