Friday Harbor High School’s volleyball team is starting the season with a check in the win column and one in the lose, but a loss isn’t going to keep the team down.
“I am really optimistic for this season and am feeling so grateful and blessed that we had our numbers almost double for this year. We were getting extremely close to having to do cuts due to the number of girls we had show up for the first week,” coach Nadine Varsovia said. “Luckily, I was able to make it work with the numbers that we had, and although we have much larger teams this year than in years’ past, this will only pave the way for the program to grow larger and larger and also grow more support!”
The Lady Wolverines started the season at home against Coupeville on Thursday, Sept. 12, losing to the Wolves 3-0. On Saturday, Sept. 14, the girls came back strong, winning 3-1 against the Cedar Park Christian Eagles.
“We have been working on staying aggressive offensively and made a lot of progress in our back row attacks and avoiding sending over easy balls,” Varsovia said. “I think we really excelled at doing this in that first game.”
Varsovia is in her third year coaching the volleyball team and is helped by assistant coach Lili Wood, who is also the junior varsity coach.
“I chose to step up and take charge of this program because I really wanted to bring some hype back into the volleyball program,” Varsovia said. “I wanted to start doing things throughout the season to increase team morale and work more on creating a good team culture that can last throughout the years that can hopefully in turn foster more support for the sport and bring in more girls that want to play.”
Practice for the team began on Aug. 23, and they met twice a day for the first week. In the morning, the girls would meet up for an hour of intensive conditioning. After school, they met again for two-hour volleyball practice. Currently, the team has practice from more than two hours every day with occasional Saturday practice. Soon, Varsovia added, the varsity team will be doing strength training three days a week in the morning.
Returning to the team for her senior year, Liz Cruz is the captain and has always been a hard worker, according to Varsovia.
“I have seen Liz play in the past and never had a chance to actually coach her until this year. She is an amazing leader for our team and is extremely coachable,” Varsovia said. “She is always willing to do what it takes for her team on the court, and if she was not a libero, she would be perfectly capable of playing all the way around.”
The team’s main setter, Ella Mason, has vastly improved her technique from last year, Varsovia explained.
“When given instructions to do a certain set, she can execute it right away,” she said. ”Considering she is only a sophomore this year, she will help our team make lots of amazing plays for a few more years.”
Last year, a knee injury cut junior Olivia Meenan’s sophomore volleyball season short, so Varsovia is excited to have her return to the court this fall as a junior.
“She is one of the only two girls that plays all the way around in rotation and is a natural athlete. She has been working a lot on her hitting technique this past year and shows a lot of promise to execute plays for our team.”
The rest of the varsity team includes sophomores Olivia Germain and Ashley Lawson; juniors Annika Janson, Rachel Starr, Magally Aguayo, Stella Parsons and Bristol Halvorson; and seniors Marcella Kirkland and Zoe Wagerers.
The junior varsity team is comprised of Fela Andrews, Jordan Gustafson, Emma Hermann, Lily Rock, Lilia Arenas, Ayana Berube, Ava Janson, Sydney Fouquette, Elsa Kindelberger, Yaritza Plaza, Eleanor Rollins, Dani McKay and Mia Blackmon; sophomore Eva Sanabria, Cat Pignatiello and Rachelle Cruz.
The Lady Wolverines take on the Life Christian Academy Eagles at home this Saturday, Sept. 12, at 11:30 a.m.
Courtney Oldwyn helped with this story.