With the unprecedented number of new coaches, it’s tough to figure out what will happen in the Greater Spokane League this year. Mt. Spokane and Mead have proven stars – the Wildcats with two returning All-GSL players from last year’s breakthrough league-title team and the Panthers with nary a senior, but eight varsity returnees. The credentials of new coach Chris Kosty enhances Central Valley’s chances, also.
Players to watch
Mt. Spokane’s two returning first-team All-GSL players are Annie Arnzen and Ixchelle Olson. Shadle Park’s Darby Santos, was first team as a sophomore. Mead’s roster features 11 juniors and a sophomore, including returning starters Paige Montgomery, Hannah Zalopany and Maddy Underwood. “Across the league,” said Panthers coach Judy Kight, “the juniors might be the strongest group at the same age ever.” But there are seniors who will contribute, including four who made the All-GSL second team last year.
The Wildcats, fourth in State 3A in 2010, have a dilemma. Arnzen severely injured a hip which required extensive surgery, prohibiting the school’s career kills leader from playing outside. Junior Kennedie Clute will fill in nicely, but how Arnzen adapts at setter goes a long way toward determining the Wildcats’ chances of a repeat. … It’s hard to bet against Kight and all her state titles. The State 4A third-place team last season is young in age, but not in experience and their only GSL loss came against Mt. Spokane in a thriller. … The Gonzaga Prep Bullpups and Lewis and Clark Tigers bring back practically their entire lineups. University was a win away from 3A state last year. Said Kight in her email, “It will be interesting to see which teams maintain their momentum from last year and which will need to get used to a brand new coaching style.”
Around the area
Inland Empire: Talk with three coaches in the Idaho 5A league and you’ll get the same message. Echoing the words of Lake City’s Bret Taylor, “About anybody in the league could win it.” The Timberwolves have been bolstered by the transfer from Coeur d’Alene of Kylie Curtis, a setter/outside hitter. “She contributes a bunch, said Taylor. “It’s good to have her here.” … Post Falls has won back-to-back unbeaten league championships and finished fourth in state last year. “I think the great thing is, there’s good volleyball in Idaho,” coach Willow Hanna said. When asked if her team can win a third league title and return to state, she said “That’s the plan.” Eight Trojans return including all-leaguers Tori Bertsch, Allison Meehan and Ashley Jibby in the front row. … Coeur d’Alene coach Dee Pottenger – formerly an assistant at Post Falls – would like to join them. She didn’t list star players, but rather her entire roster as part of a philosophy for team building. “We want to be one of the two teams to state,” said Pottenger.
Great Northern: Julie Yearout said she really missed coaching and that West Valley, third at state last year, felt right for her return. “ Drew Wendle had such a great program with high expectations and great support,” she said. Dropping from the 4A to 2A classification is fine with her. Yearout said the Pullman Greyhounds and West Valley Eagles were better than many GSL teams. “I felt comfortable coming here and don’t want to screw up the program,” she said. … Both two-time defending State 2A champion Pullman and WV graduated some talented players, but they should be fine. The Greyhounds return outside hitter Jenny Nakata and the Eagles return sophomore setter Aalliyah Ashley-Meek, both first-team All-GNL. And watch Clarkston with perhaps the two best all-around athletes in the GNL – Jaime Weisner and KC McConnell – plus second-team all-leaguer Lexi Thelen.
Northeast A: You can’t bet against Colville – fifth at State 1A last year with two first-team all-league sophomores Joelle Buckner and Jacy Vining. Newport made state last year. Freeman, with first-team sophomore, Randi Jordan, and Lakeside have tradition.
2B-1B: Reardan is the defending State 2B champion. Colfax placed third and Northwest Christian was fifth. Almira/Coulee Hartline won State 1B and has two returning all-league players, while Wilbur-Creston placed third.
|Predicted finish||4. Gonzaga Prep||8. Ferris|
|1. Mead||5. University||9. North Central|
|2. Mt. Spokane||6. Lewis and Clark||10. Rogers|
|3. Central valley||7. Shadle Park|