Elaina Renius knows the shoes she must fill are large.
The Mead counselor is excited about the challenge, though. Renius, 26, has been named the Panthers’ volleyball coach. She replaces legendary Judy Kight, who retired from coaching late last fall.
“I can’t reiterate it enough. This is a dream to follow such a dynamic, inspirational dynasty,” said Renius, who is in her first year as a counselor at Mead.
Renius is well aware of Kight’s history. Kight’s record in 23 seasons was 583-150 overall and 236-61 in the Greater Spokane League. Her teams won 10 league, 11 district and 11 regional championships to go with seven state titles. During her watch, Mead had nine 30-win seasons and 17 state tournament appearances, in which the Panthers captured 15 state trophies.
Renius grew up in Grants Pass, Ore., where she played volleyball and basketball at North Valley High School. She signed to play basketball at Gonzaga University. She ended up playing three seasons of basketball and three seasons of volleyball.
While finishing a master’s degree, Renius coached the Shadle Park junior varsity volleyball team one season. Then she took a counseling position at Garrison Middle School in Walla Walla. She was an assistant volleyball coach for one year at Whitman before moving back to Spokane last year.
“I knew I wanted to come back to Spokane because it’s more home to me than home is,” she said.
• Gonzaga Prep also has filled it head volleyball position, and the new coach has a connection to a head volleyball coach in the area.
Jill Benson takes over at G-Prep. Benson, 37, is the wife of Eastern Washington University coach Wade Benson.
A Sacramento, Calif., native, Jill Benson was the head coach the past two seasons at Niceville (Fla.) High School. Her teams finished fifth in Class 6A, the third highest classification, both years.
“I’m looking forward to building the program,” Benson said by telephone from Niceville, where she is concluding her responsibilities as a club coach. She and her two children will join Wade in the area in late May.
The annual Washington State Girls Basketball Coaches Association All-State games were held last weekend.
In the 2B/1B game, 2B won 81-56. Paige Vincent of Colton led 1B with 18 points and eight rebounds while Chantel Heath of Reardan had 10 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists for 2B.
In the 4A/3A game, 4A won 90-41. Joelle Tampien of Lewis and Clark had 11 points, five rebounds and two assists for 4A while Kaycee Hert of Shadle Park had seven points, eight rebounds and two steals for 3A.
In the 2A/1A game, 2A won 59-56.
The WSGBCA state player of the year awards went to Kaitlin Druffel (Colton, 1B), Kelsey Moos (Reardan, 2B), Kayleigh Valley (University, 3B) and Jade Redmon (Mead, 4A).